Vatican Sex Abuse: Bishops Not Required to Report

Vatican_from_riverPDA recently published Vatican sex abuse document used to train new bishops states that bishops are not required to report sexual abuse. The document has been used as a guide for new bishops since 2011 but was only recently released to the public.

Instead of having a simple policy of requiring all bishops to report child sexual abuse to the police, the Vatican policy requires reporting only if the civil law of the particular place requires reporting. “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” the training document states.

This may be a technically legal loophole. But if it is reasonable to expect bishops in one place to report abuse to the police, it is reasonable to expect bishops in another place to report abuse to the police. The point is not whether bishops should follow the civil laws on this issue but whether they should report abuse – and they should!

Oddly, even though the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a body created by Pope Francis himself, is supposed to be developing “best practices” to prevent and deal with sex abuse in the church, the Commission plays no role in this training program. The Commission has no say in whether bishops should be mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse, regardless of the law in their location.

In related news, Peter Saunders, a British abuse survivor, has been kicked off the Vatican abuse Commission for publicly criticizing the church’s lack of action in helping to prevent sexual abuse of minors. He was one of two survivors on the Commission who received a vote of no confidence and was removed from the Vatican body.

While Pope Francis has publicly called for zero tolerance of abuse, his Vatican committees have been doing just the opposite. The rhetoric is good but the actions sadly remain the same.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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