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Pope Francis: Motu Proprio on protection of minors, obligation to report and removal from office

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

Obligation to report and removal from office – these two provisions are part of the Motu Proprio on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons, released today by Pope Francis alongside a new legislation and “guidelines” on the matter to be applied in the Vatican City State. “A respectful community” should be created, one that is “mindful of the rights and needs of minors and vulnerable people, and committed to preventing all forms of physical and mental abuse or violence, abandonment, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation that may occur either in interpersonal relations or in meeting places and facilities”, Pope Francis suggested as a first measure to protect the victims. “May we all be aware of the duty to report abuse to the competent authorities and to cooperate with them in prevention activities; every abuse or maltreatment of minors or vulnerable persons must be pursued by law; the victims of exploitation, sexual abuse or maltreatment and their families should have the right to be welcomed, listened to and accompanied; the victims and their families should be offered suitable pastoral care and adequate spiritual, medical, psychological and legal support; the accused should be guaranteed the right to a fair and impartial trial, including the presumption of innocence, with respect for the principles of the rule of law and proportionality in sentencing”. As for the perpetrators of such crimes, Pope Francis stated that those convicted of “abusing a child or a vulnerable person must be removed from office and offered adequate spiritual and psychological rehabilitation, also for the purposes of re-entering society; everything must be done to rehabilitate the good name of those who have been unjustly accused”. As a general provision, it is essential to provide “appropriate training in the protection of minors and vulnerable persons”.

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