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What do the Vatican's new sexual abuse rules do?

As we noted in our previous post, new rules were recently issued by the Vatican regarding sexual abuse. These guidelines represent the first significant step the Catholic Church has taken regarding formalizing the entire process of handling complaints of the abuse of minors, seminarians and vulnerable adults. Today, we'll continue our dicussion on what is included in these new rules.

Reporting requirements

The rules put new requirements on clergy and members of religious orders when it comes to reporting complaints. Under the new guidelines, when priests and nuns hear accusations of abuse, they will be mandated to report the complaints to church authorities. This requirement goes into effect on June 1, when the rules as a whole go into force.

As a note, this new reporting requirement does not directly mandate that clergy and members or religious orders report abuse allegations to police. The rules do, however, note that church officials are to comply with civil reporting obligations that apply.

The investigation of higher-ups

Another thing the recent guidelines do is put a formal system in place for investigating abuse/cover-up complaints leveled against bishops and other high authorities in the church.

Supporting offices and systems

As part of the new rules, Dioceses are also to put offices and systems in place for receiving claims of abuse and providing victim and whistleblower protections. Dioceses have a year to get these established.

The new rules have drawn a range of reactions. Some argue that they do not go far enough. What do you think of the new rules? Do you think they will help in the fight against clergy abuse?

For victims of clergy sexual abuse and other abuses of authority, there can be many complex aspects to getting the protections and resources they need to begin healing. This includes navigating institutional processes and systems. Skilled attorneys can help abuse survivors with overcoming complexities and challenges on the path to getting justice.

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