The Latest: Victims disappointed by lack of concrete action
Associated Press•February 24, 2019
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis’ summit at the Vatican on preventing clergy sex abuse (all times local):
The Vatican has announced it will soon issue a child protection policy and guidelines for preventing sexual abuse of minors for Vatican City State.
The Associated Press reported last year that Vatican City, the headquarters of the global Catholic Church, had no such policy.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the moderator of Pope Francis’ summit on abuse prevention, announced at the summit’s end Sunday that the Vatican in the near future would issue a new law covering the Roman Curia, or bureaucracy, and be in effect in Vatican City.
The lack of a policy was significant, since the Holy See had tasked bishops conferences around the world in 2011 with creating written child protection guidelines. It had also told the United Nations in 2014 that a written child protection policy was in the works.
Pope Francis may have ended his clergy sex abuse prevention summit at the Vatican, but a scandal over an Argentine bishop close to him is only gaining steam.
The Associated Press has reported that the Vatican knew as early as 2015 about Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta’s inappropriate behavior with seminarians. Yet he was allowed to stay as bishop of Oran on until August 2017, when he resigned suddenly, only to be given a top job at the Vatican by the pope.
Diocesan documents published by the Tribune of Salta newspaper show that the original 2015 complaint reported that Zanchetta had gay porn involving “young people” having sex on his phone. Their age isn’t clear.
Francis told his summit Sunday that Vatican laws criminalizing possession of child porn involving children under 14 should change to raise the age and expand the protections for minors.
Pope Francis has concluded his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing to confront abusers with “the wrath of God,” end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”
Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass on Sunday before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors summoned to Rome after a renewed explosion of the clergy abuse scandal sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.
The Jesuit pope noted that the vast majority of sexual abuse happens in the family. But he said the evil of sexual abuse of children becomes even more scandalous when it occurs in the Catholic Church “for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.”