Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases



Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pope Francis announced sweeping changes to the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with cases of sexual abuse. AFP

Pope repeals ‘pontifical secret’ for sex abuse cases

Priests can no longer cite papal secrecy in abuse cases, the Vatican said on Tuesday, the latest move by Pope Francis to combat silence surrounding paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church.

The Church has been rocked by thousands of reports of sexual abuse around the world by priests, and accusations of cover-ups by senior clergy.

Francis’ latest instructions regarding Vatican law on sexual abuse say that the pontifical secret no longer applies “to accusations, trials and decisions” involving such cases.

Pontifical secrecy is a rule of confidentiality designed to protect sensitive information related to Church governance, such as diplomatic correspondence, personnel issues and alleged crimes.

Critics say the secrecy laws have prevented priests and victims from reporting abuse, as well as hindered national justice systems prosecuting cases.

The Vatican also announced on Tuesday that it is raising from 14 to 18, the age at which sexual images of a person are deemed as child pornography.

In May, the pope passed a landmark measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse to report it to their superiors, a move expected to bring even more cases to light.

In Tuesday’s statement, issued on the Argentine pontiff’s 83rd birthday, Francis spelt out the new obligations.

“The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case,” he wrote.

Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s chief sex crime investigator, called Francis’ move an “epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments”.

He told the official Vatican News website that “the question of transparency now is being implemented at the highest level”.

The pope has vowed an “all-out battle” against sex abuse within the Church, but some victims’ groups have said concrete measures have been slow in coming.

Marie Collins, a child sexual abuse survivor who in 2017 resigned from a Vatican committee she said was failing to adequately tackle paedophilia, welcomed the pope’s latest move.

“Excellent news,” Collins wrote on Twitter, saying the committee had recommended the step. “At last a real and positive change.”

Despite the lifting of papal secrecy, Francis qualified that discretion in sexual abuse cases was still required.

Information pertaining to such cases should be treated, “in such a way as to ensure its security, integrity and discretion . . . for the sake of protecting the good name, image and privacy of all persons involved”, the pope wrote.

But that should not obstruct the law, the obligation to report abuses and the carrying out of requests by law enforcement, the instructions said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Third Makro outlet planned for capital’s Chroy Changvar

    Makro (Cambodia) Co Ltd is set to invest $12.7 million in its third Cambodian outlet, this time in northeast Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district, an area dotted with high-end residential developments, as shopping behaviours continue to evolve in tandem with economic growth. The Cambodian Investment