By Lydia O’Kane
Just over a month after the “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting in the Vatican, Pope Francis on Friday issued a Motu Proprio and two other documents pertaining to the pastoral care of minors within the territory of Vatican City State.
Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna was one of the organisers of the February summit and is also an adjunct secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Speaking about the release of the three documents, he explains that they “essentially are laws and two of them are laws issued by the Holy Father as sovereign of Vatican City State.” The third document, he says, consists of “guidelines for the pastoral care of minors within the territory of the Vatican City State.”
Protection of Minors and Vulnerable in Vatican City State
The Archbishop points out that the documents “are not intended to be for the rest of the world, they actually contemplate the concrete situation of Vatican City State; a number of minors, who either live there, work there, or visit, and it’s all about the protection of minors and the duty to report the abuse of minors when it happens within Vatican City State or even between departments of the Vatican that are extra-territorial, outside the Vatican, but always within its jurisdiction.”
Referring to the guidelines for the pastoral care of minors, the Maltese Archbishop says they can serve as a model for Bishops and Bishops’ Conferences and they also deal with taking care of victims of abuse, emphasizing the duty to report and the duty to care also for communities.
The Archbishop says that one of the things he finds impressive is the “emphasis on the rights of the victims and the duty of authorities, whether pastoral or legal, to inform the victims of their rights; to ensure within the criminal system of the Vatican City State and also within the pastoral guidelines, care for victims and also care for the whole community impacted by the egregious crimes of sexual abuse of minors or the vulnerable.”
Archbishop Scicluna notes that the documents follow “best practice in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand… Scotland and Ireland.” “I think it is a good day for the Vatican”, he says, “because it’s actually doing what the Holy See has asked other people to do.”