Vatican City, Jul 16, 2020 / 06:00 am
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued Thursday a manual to help bishops and dioceses follow Church procedure in respect to accusations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.
The vademecum, released July 16, is one of the last documents promised by the Vatican following its February 2019 abuse summit.
The handbook does not issue new norms or make alterations to current Church law, but is intended as a guide for bishops, dioceses, and religious communities on how to follow Church procedure in sex abuse cases.
Abuse of a minor by a cleric is considered by the Church to be a grave delict (graviora delicta), or crime. The disciplinary measures for grave delicts are the competence of the CDF.
According to the vademecum’s introduction, “the present manual is meant to serve as a handbook for those charged with ascertaining the truth in such criminal cases, leading them step-by-step from the notitia criminis (notice that a crime is alleged to have occurred) to the definitive conclusion of the case.”
The introduction states that use of the manual is encouraged “since a standardized praxis will contribute to a better administration of justice.”
Just under 20 pages, the handbook addresses topics such as: What must be done when information is received about possible abuse of a minor by a cleric; how to carry out a preliminary investigation; and how to inform and pass information to the CDF about the preliminary investigation.
It also covers what the CDF can be expected to do after receiving the information from the preliminary investigation, called “acts,” as well as listing the possible outcomes of a case.