The Heralds of the Gospel filed an appeal to the decree Aug. 15, expressing their disagreement to Cardinal Braz de Aviz and noting that "none of those responsible" for the association "was called to address the complaints" nor were they "granted the possibility of defense."
The Heralds also noted that the parents who made the decision to send their children to these homes weren’t heard from, and that the people who complained to the Holy See for the most part were not parents of minors.
Those same people, the Heralds’ press office stated, also filed a complaint with the Brazilian civil authorities and the case investigating the physical and psychological abuse of minors "was already adjudicated and dismissed" by the Sao Paulo Court of Justice Aug. 24.
These accusations, “already examined in civil court, were inadmissible," the Heralds’ press office stated.
A group of parents of students who stay in these homes sent a petition with almost 2,600 signatures to the Holy See, which was presented Sept. 2. The parents noted that their parental rights are guaranteed by civil and canonical legislation, and that they don’t accept the Holy See’s decision to have their children come home.
In an opinion on the decree, jurists Dircêo Torrecillas Ramos and Ives Gandra da Silva Martins stated that it “interferes in matters other than canon law, namely, the intellectual, moral and religious formation of minors in Brazil,” and that the issue falls under the the responsibility of the Brazilian civil authorities.
The jurists noted that the applicable civil authorities in education "have not found anything to confirm the generic suspicions found" in the decision of the congregation.
In addition, the Heralds of the Gospel Educational Institute stated that as a teaching institution, it is subject to the authorization and evaluation by civil, not ecclesial authorities.
An apostolic visit to the Heralds by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life began in 2017, and as a result a pontifical commissioner was appointed in 2019 due to, the Holy See said, a series of deficiencies "in the style of governance, the life of the members of the Council, vocation ministry, the formation of new vocations, the administration, the management of the works and resources" of the Heralds of the Gospel.