Vatican expands abuse prevention to lay movements

Participants attend the meeting to discuss safeguarding in lay movements at the Vatican, June 13 (CNS/Dicastery for Laity -Family and Life)

While much of the Church’s focus has been on clerical sexual abuse and the accountability of bishops, the Vatican is making child protection a priority for new movements and lay associations. Source: Crux.

The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life brought together close to 100 representatives of Catholic associations and movements for a meeting June 13 on abuse prevention and procedures for reporting and handling allegations.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican office, told the representatives that by the end of December every movement and association in the Church must turn in formal guidelines and protocols for reporting and preventing cases of abuse.

Catholic movements and associations for laypeople, which are given official recognition through the cardinal’s office, were told in May 2018 to draft abuse guidelines. Too many of the groups either did not respond or submitted inadequate protocols, he said.

Cardinal Farrell said some Catholics in some parts of the world think holding another meeting about the abuse crisis shows that the scandal has become “a fixation,” “an unhealthy obsession” or “a pesky exaggeration.”

“In truth, the logic is exactly the reverse,” he said. “It is the sexual abuse of power (and) of conscience that is an evil, an unhealthy obsession, a real manipulation, that suffocates and frustrates even the best pastoral plans, obscuring the good that the Church accomplishes.”

Developing protocols is only part of the process of “purging” the culture of abuse within the Church, he said. The Church also needs a “change of mentality” to eradicate the sense of “taboo” that often led survivors of abuse to keep quiet and caused many laymen and laywomen to look the other way.

Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary for laity at the dicastery, read out the testimonies of three anonymous members of lay movements who suffered abuse and were further harmed by their group’s sense of “omerta,” a term that refers to the Mafia’s code of silence.

To listen to such testimonies of abuse, Ms Ghisoni said, “is not a way of indulging some morbid curiosity, nor an exercise in pity, but involves our honesty and brings us to an encounter with the flesh of Christ that is inflicted with wounds that, as Pope Francis has repeatedly maintained, never disappear.”

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Purging silence: Vatican expands abuse prevention to lay movements (Crux)

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