Crime Religion US/World

Pope Lifts Secrecy Rules for Sex Abuse Cases

By Daniel Lehewych

Contributer| Telegraph Local

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Since the expose done by The Boston Globe in 2002 illuminating the extent of the Catholic Churches’ active participation in child sexual abuse, the Catholic Church has been under constant scrutiny. It is well known –in part due to The Boston Globe expose– that part of the way in which the church was actively participating in the widespread activity of child sexual abuse was through secrecy rules. That is, those who were in the church community that participated in sexual abuse would have such information kept confidential and in some cases, such individuals would be moved from parish to parish to continue their abuse.

The Vatican for decades, had, as a rule, this form of secrecy. However, very recently, Pope Francis has lifted the veil of secrecy; no longer will it be a rule of the Vatican to withhold incriminating information regarding sexual abuse cases tied to the Catholic church.

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Prior to this recent rule from the Vatican, it is the case that many Churches are simply not willing to cooperate with wishes from the Vatican to be more transparent. These churches are citing the “pontification secret”, which is perceived to be the highest form of confidentiality in the Catholic church –to such an extent, that breaking of the pontification can result in excommunication from the Catholic church.

The pontification secret, however, is presisely what the Vatican has decided to do away with. It is argued by Vatican officials that especially in cases of sexual abuse, it is a profoundly outdated excuse to not be more transparent regarding potentially incriminating evidence. Now it is –supposedly– the case that in the absence of this secret, full transparency at all levels –including the highest– of the Catholic church will be practiced.

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Finally, it is the case that Pope Francis raised the age for what constitutes child pornography from 14 to 18.

“Now it is important that further steps are taken towards transparency — also with regard to the thousands of acts of abuse cases stored in Vatican chambers and palaces. These files must be made available for independent review and investigation.”

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