Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases



Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pope Francis announced sweeping changes to the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with cases of sexual abuse. AFP

Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases

Priests can no longer cite papal secrecy in abuse cases, the Vatican said on Tuesday, the latest move by Pope Francis to combat silence surrounding paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church.

The Church has been rocked by thousands of reports of sexual abuse around the world by priests, and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy.

Francis’ latest instructions regarding Vatican law on sexual abuse say that the pontifical secret no longer applies “to accusations, trials and decisions” involving such cases.

Pontifical secrecy is a rule of confidentiality designed to protect sensitive information related to Church governance, such as diplomatic correspondence, personnel issues and alleged crimes.

Critics say the secrecy laws have prevented priests and victims from reporting abuse, as well as hindered national justice systems prosecuting cases.

The Vatican also announced on Tuesday that it is raising from 14 to 18, the age at which sexual images of a person are deemed as child pornography.

In May, the pope passed a landmark measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse to report it to their superiors, a move expected to bring even more cases to light.

In Tuesday’s statement, issued on the Argentine pontiff’s 83rd birthday, Francis spelt out the new obligations.

“The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case,” he wrote.

Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s chief sex crime investigator, called Francis’ move an “epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments”.

He told the official Vatican News website that “the question of transparency now is being implemented at the highest level”.

The pope has vowed an “all-out battle” against sex abuse within the Church, but some victims’ groups have said concrete measures have been slow in coming.

Marie Collins, a child sexual abuse survivor who in 2017 resigned from a Vatican committee she said was failing to adequately tackle paedophilia, welcomed the pope’s latest move.

“Excellent news,” Collins wrote on Twitter, saying the committee had recommended the step. “At last a real and positive change.”

Despite the lifting of papal secrecy, Francis qualified that discretion in sexual abuse cases was still required.

Information pertaining to such cases should be treated, “in such a way as to ensure its security, integrity and discretion . . . for the sake of protecting the good name, image and privacy of all persons involved”, the pope wrote.

But that should not obstruct the law, the obligation to report abuses and the carrying out of requests by law enforcement, the instructions said.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol