Vatican City, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- The Vatican published a handbook on Thursday on child sexual abuse procedures after the Catholic Church has been hit by a series of scandals on the issue.
This written guide urges clergy to report such cases to authorities even if they are not required to by local laws in a tougher stance against the problem.
The 20-page “vademecum” was published on Thursday by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
It contains “precise responses to what can be called the most frequently asked questions”, the Vatican said in a statement.
The document was requested by bishops at a global summit on abuse convened by Pope Francis in February 2019.
“It is an instruction manual which, in a bit more than 30 pages and 9 chapters, responds to the main questions to several procedural steps regarding how cases of the sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy should be handled,” the Vatican said.
The Vatican previously advised clerics to report any cases of abuse to superiors in the church but told them to follow local laws regarding reporting alleged sexual crimes to civil authorities.
According to the new guidance: “Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.”
It adds that “the investigation should be carried out with respect for the civil laws of each state”.
The manual says that ecclesiastical authorities have to “ensure that the alleged victim and his or her family are treated with dignity and respect”.
It also advises clergy to offer “welcome, attentive hearing and support, also through specific services, as well as spiritual, medical and psychological help, as required by the specific case” to both the victim and accused.
The Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of sexual abuse scandals over the past two decades.
The handbook says that these crimes “constitute for the whole Church a profound and painful wound that cries out for healing.” EFE-EPA