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Pope Francis Abolishes Secrecy Policy in Sexual Abuse Cases


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Church officials can now share information with secular law enforcement authorities. Critics said the confidentiality rule led to the concealment of abuse.


ROME — The Vatican on Tuesday said it would abolish the high level of secrecy it has applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics, ending a policy that critics said had often shielded priests from criminal punishment by the secular authorities.

Removing that cloak of confidentiality, the Roman Catholic Church is changing its stance to make it acceptable — but not required — to turn information about abuse claims over to the police, prosecutors and judges.

In recent years, church officials in the United States and some other countries have shared with civil authorities information about some sexual abuse allegations. But that cooperation, in theory, defied a decree adopted in 2001 that made the information a “pontifical secret” — the church’s most classified knowledge.

Victims and their advocates said the restrictions hampered civil authorities and helped conceal crimes, and they greeted Francis’ new instructions as a step forward.

“Things are decidedly changing,” said Francesco Zanardi, an Italian survivor of clerical abuse and the president of Rete l’Abuso, an Italian anti-abuse group.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks abuse in the church, said the pope had taken “an overdue and desperately needed step.”

“For decades, pontifical secrecy has been an obstruction to civil justice, spurring bishops worldwide to thwart prosecutions of abusive priests,” Ms. Barrett Doyle said in a statement. She called changing the policy “a first step toward decreasing the anti-victim bias of canon law.”

On Tuesday, the pope also made the canon law against child pornography more stringent, a change that victims’ groups had pushed for. Previously, possession or dissemination of pornographic images of children under 14 was considered a “most grave crime.” That category that will now apply to images of children under 18.

The secrecy change is the latest step in the church’s attempts to tackle the sexual abuse crisis that has dogged it for decades. Growing global pressure for greater accountability forced the issue to the front of Pope Francis’ agenda.

In response to the demands for change, Francis convened a summit meeting of church leaders in February to address the crisis. It ended with a call “for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors” and insistence that the church needed to protect children “from ravenous wolves.”

Weeks after that meeting, the pope issued a new canon law, requiring for the first time that church officials report abuse charges to Vatican prosecutors. Francis then issued a rule requiring that all church officials report to their superiors either abuse allegations or attempts to cover them up.

The rule announced on Tuesday was also a product of the February meeting, the Vatican said.

“This is a sign of openness, transparency and the willingness to collaborate with the civil authorities,” Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of the Vatican’s communications office, wrote in a commentary.

Under the new norms, “any reporting, testimony and documents” related to sexual abuse “can now be handed over when requested to lawful authorities in their respective countries,” Mr. Tornielli wrote.


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  • 1 month later...

He's a fake asshole

And everything is for show

Nothing sincere about him

Nothing changes at the core

Don't be fooled by the first Jesuit Pope

Jesuits are the filthiest and most dangerous among Roman Catholic hierarchy


The Roman Catholic Church remains what it always was and has been for two millennia, rotten, devious, arrogant and beyond dirty. That very same institution that was the first to licence the slave trade and made it possible all over the world. The same organisation that doesn't pay taxes over billions worth of land and property, that has hidden and protected pedo priests and nuns for centuries, and the same institution that has collaborated with the Nazis, runs all types of mafia cartels and illegal trade/exploitation around the world

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