Vatican City, May 9, 2019 / 03:01 am
New Vatican norms for the Church's handling of sex abuse, issued Thursday, place seminarians and religious coerced into sexual activity through the misuse of authority in the same criminal category as abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.
The norms also establish obligatory reporting for clerics and religious, require that every diocese has a mechanism for reporting abuse, and put the metropolitan archbishop in charge of investigations of accusations against suffragan bishops.
Pope Francis promulgated the law May 9 via a motu proprio, titled, "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"). He approved its promulgation on an experimental basis for a period of three years. It will enter in effect June 1, 2019.
"The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful," the pope wrote, stating that the primary responsibility for improving the handling of these issues falls to the bishop, though it concerns all who have ministries in the Church or "serve the Christian People."