Pope Francis Puts Foot Down on Abuse
Since his election as Pontiff, Pope Francis has built himself a reputation as a liberal, modernising head of the Catholic Church. That’s not saying much, given that the Catholic Church is 19 centuries old and still communicates with smoke and fire.
Indeed, his holiness is so liberal that he has just used his supreme authority to remove draconian secrecy measures on the epidemic of child sex abuse that has run rampant in the institution for generations.
In an incredibly forward-thinking move, the Pope has now made it mandatory for Church practitioners to report any suspicions of illegal behaviour towards minors to the authorities and all attempts to silence and coerce individuals with complaints have now been forbidden.
Rumour has it that an official acknowledgement that the earth is not at the centre of the solar system is imminent.
Though the Pope has been cautious not to appear too radical, that’s why he has decreed that cases of abuse will still be protected by senior clergymen for ‘security, integrity, and confidentiality’. In other words, the Vatican still intends to keep some secrets.
This is a departure from the canon law implemented by Benedict XVI, who ordered that cases of child sexual abuse should be dealt with in secrecy. Benedict’s law previously made cooperating with law enforcement difficult, as documents and witness testimonies were largely inaccessible.
Up until now, the Church, which exists in its own country of Vatican City, had acted as the sole legal authority on these cases, defrocking priests who were found guilty of misconduct.
What’s more, it was never mandated that priests report incidents of sexual depravity to other legal authorities and investigators tasked with looking into the Church had a not dissimilar experience to Tom Hanks in the Da Vinci Code.
The Catholic Church’s priest who leads sexual abuse investigations (let’s not call him an expert), Charles Scicluna, maintains that the Pope’s decision is an ‘epochal’ one that marks a new phase of cooperation between the Vatican and police.
Overall, a welcome change for a Church with over 1.3 billion followers. Who knows a few years down the line the Vatican’s Yelp rating as a daycare centre will go up considerably.