CONGREGATION ISSUES VADEMECUM FOR PROCEDURES IN TREATING CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS COMMITTED BY CLERICS – CDF SECRETARY ON MANUAL FOR REPORTING ABUSE

CONGREGATION ISSUES VADEMECUM FOR PROCEDURES IN TREATING CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS COMMITTED BY CLERICS

The cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the new Vademecum for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in a presentation that the “Vademecum on certain points of procedure in treating cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by clerics” is the result of numerous requests sent by Bishops, Ordinaries, Superiors of Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to have at their disposal a tool that could help them in the delicate task of correctly conducting cases regarding deacons, priests and bishops when they are accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

His written presentation, sent to journalists by the press office, noted that, “Recent history attests to greater attention on the part of the Church regarding this scourge. The course of justice cannot alone exhaust the Church’s response, but it is necessary in order to come to the truth of the facts. This is a complex path that leads into a dense forest of norms and procedures before which Ordinaries and Superiors sometimes find themselves lacking the certainty how to proceed. Thus, the Vademecum was primarily written for them, as well as for legal professionals who help them handle the cases.

“This is not a normative text,” explained the cardinal prefect. “No new law is being promulgated, nor are new norms being issued. It is, instead, an ‘instruction manual’ that intends to help whoever has to deal with concrete cases from the beginning to the end, that is, from the first notification of a possible crime (notitia de delicto) to the definitive conclusion of the case (res iudicata). Between these two points there are periods of time that must be observed, steps to complete, communication to be given, decisions to take.”

Cardinal Ladaria explained that, “the sources for this text are both juridical and practical. On the normative level, the principal references are the current Code of Canon Law, the Substantive Norms and procedural norms regarding delicts (crimes) reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated by the Motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (2001, updated in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI), and the more recent Motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi (2019).”

He added that, “Alongside these normative texts is another source for the Vademecum: the praxis of the Congregation, matured over the course of the years, particularly from 2001 on, in which the first norms appeared that were specifically dedicated to the more serious crimes.”

CDF SECRETARY ON MANUAL FOR REPORTING ABUSE

Archbishop Giacomo Morandi spoke to Vatican News about the new Vademecum. Following are several of the Q&A from that interview.

Q. Does this document contain new indications with respect to previous ones?

No. No new rules are being promulgated. The real novelty, however, is that for the first time the procedure is described in an organized way – from the first report of a possible crime to the definitive conclusion of the cause – uniting the existing norms and the praxis of the Congregation. The norms are well-known, while the practice of the Congregation, that is, the practical way of applying the norms, is known only by those who have already dealt with these cases.

Q: What cases fall under the competence of your Congregation?

In general, the crimes reserved to our Congregation are all those against the faith, and only the most serious (in the language now in use we commonly speak of delicta graviora) against morality and the administration of the Sacraments. The Vademecum, however, refers to only one of these crimes, which article 6 of the Motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela applies to a cleric when he commits an offense involving a minor that violates the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue. These are the cases that make the most headlines in the media, also because of their seriousness.

Q: When does the Church consider it a matter of abuse of “minors”? How has the age limit changed?

In the criminal sphere, a minor is a person who has not yet reached the age of 18. Other age distinctions, which refer to ages below 18, are not relevant in this sense. The Latin Code of Canon Law, in can. 1395 § 2, still speaks of 16 years of age, but the Motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela promulgated by John Paul II in 2001 raised the age to 18. Cases of “abuse” (as just said, an ‘offense involving a minor that violates the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue’) are often easy to delineate, for example sexual relations as such, or other instances of physical contact that are not properly “relations” but have a clear sexual intent. Other times, however, cases are not so easy to delineate, involving nuances that must be evaluated to determine if they are delicta graviora in the juridical sense according to laws in force at the time.

Q: What is most striking is the change in attitude towards anonymous complaints, which were once simply thrown out. What has changed, and why should an anonymous complaint still be taken into consideration?

This is a delicate question. It has become clear that a peremptory attitude in one sense or another is not conducive to the search for truth and justice. How can a complaint which, even if anonymous, contains certain evidence (e.g. photos, films, messages, audio…), or at least concrete and plausible clues of the commission of a crime, be thrown out? Ignoring it just because it is not signed would be wrong. On the other hand, how can all reports of abuse be accepted, even generic ones and those without a sender? In this case, it would be inappropriate to proceed. It is therefore necessary to carry out a careful discernment. Generally speaking, we do not fully credit anonymous complaints, but we also do not forego a priori their initial evaluation, in order to see if there are objective and obvious determinants, those which we call fumus delicti in legal language.

Q: We are talking about crimes that are usually committed without the presence of witnesses. How is it possible to verify the validity of the charges to ensure that the guilty parties are punished and can no longer harm others?

We use trial tools that are commonly employed to verify the reliability of evidence. Many crimes, not only those in question, are committed without witnesses. But that does not mean that we cannot arrive at certainty. There are procedural tools that allow this: the reliability of the persons involved, the consistency of the facts declared, the possible seriality of the crimes, the presence of documents containing evidence, etc. It must be said that on several occasions the accused, aware in conscience of the evil committed, admits to it in court.

Q: How can we avoid that an innocent person be unjustly accused and condemned?

When the facts are not sufficiently proven, the principle of in dubio pro reo applies. This principle underpins our legal culture. In these cases, rather than declaring innocence, one declares not guilty.

JULY 16, 1945, 5:29 – U.S. BISHOPS CALL FOR PRAYERS AHEAD OF ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI BOMBINGS

A birthday prayer for me from Joe, a friend in Texas and a Knight of Columbus! I was so touched! Could there be a better gift!

God of all creation, we offer you grateful praise for the gift of life. Hear the prayers of Joan, your servant, who recalls today the day of her birth and rejoices in your gifts of life and love, family and friends.

Bless her with your presence and surround her with your love that she may enjoy many happy years, all of them pleasing to you.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

JULY 16, 1945, 5:29

(UCAN news) – July 16 is the 75th anniversary of an event that blights the lives of every one of us on this planet. On that morning in 1945 scientists in the desert of New Mexico in the United States detonated the first atomic bomb.

After that successful test, the components of two more bombs were loaded on a warship bound for Tinian, a Pacific island that had been turned into a base from which American bombers could reach Japan. Those bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9.

READ MORE: https://www.ucanews.com/news/july-16-1945-5-29/88791?utm_source=BenchmarkEmail&utm_campaign=UCA_Morning_Jul_16_2020&utm_medium=email

U.S. BISHOPS CALL FOR PRAYERS AHEAD OF ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI BOMBINGS

The USCCB Committee for International Justice and Peace encourages prayers for Japan and calls for a world of justice and solidarity, ahead of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

By Vatican News

The Bishops of the United States have made a call for prayers of peace for Japan ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the detonation of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

“August 6 and 9 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first, and one hopes the last, times that atomic weapons are employed in war,” said the Bishops in a statement issued by the USCCB’s Committee for International Justice and Peace released on Monday.

“The 21st century continues to witness geopolitical conflicts with state and non-state actors, increasingly sophisticated weapons, and the erosion of international arms control frameworks. The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons,” the Bishops said.

In the statement, the Bishops recalled that “since Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to Japan in 1981, each year the Catholic Church in Japan has observed Ten Days of Prayer for Peace.” In the same vein, in observation of this 75th anniversary, they “invite Catholics in the United States, and all those of goodwill, to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and Masses on Sunday, August 9.”

“The Church in the U.S. proclaims her clarion call and humble prayer for peace in our world which is God’s gift through the salvific sacrifice of Christ Jesus.”

Reiterating Pope Francis’s words during his visit to Nagasaki in November 2019, the Bishops affirmed that, “a world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere.”

On that occasion of his visit to Nagasaki, the Pope also appealed that “our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be joint and concerted, inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”

At the same time, the Bishops reaffirmed the Pope’s call to “renewed effort to bring about a world of justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity.”

Concluding the statement, the Bishops said that “fear, distrust and conflict must be supplanted by our joint commitment, by faith and in prayer, that peace and justice reign now and forever.”

The only wartime use of nuclear weapons took place during the Second World War, when the United States bombed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively.

The Hiroshima bombing killed around 80,000 people instantly and caused the death of tens of thousands more. The attack on Nagasaki three days later instantly killed about 40,000 people and destroyed a large part of the city.