The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has released a 17-page document offering a step-by-step guide for how bishops, religious superiors and canon lawyers are supposed to handle accusations of alleged abuse by clerics against minors.
While nothing in the text is new, nor does it reflect any change to current Church law, the handbook is meant to present clear and precise directions, procedures as well as attitudes Church leaders should have toward victims, the accused, civil authorities and the media.
Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the handbook, called the ‘Vademecum’, was the result of numerous requests by bishops and superiors of men’s and women’s religious orders “to have at their disposal a tool that could help them in the delicate task of correctly conducting cases regarding deacons, priests and bishops when they are accused of the sexual abuse of minors”.
“The course of justice cannot alone exhaust the Church’s response, but it is necessary in order to come to the truth of the facts,” Cardinal Ladaria said in a statement published by the Vatican on 16th July.
“This is a complex path that leads into a dense forest of norms and procedures before which ordinaries and superiors sometimes find themselves lacking the certainty how to proceed,” he said.
Picture: The dome of St Peter’s Basilica is pictured at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).