Vatican Says Paedophile Suspects Must Face Legal Action

Priests suspected of sexually abusing children should be turned over to the authorities and face legal action, the Vatican said on Monday in a letter to bishops on anti-paedophilia guidelines.
The letter laid out provisional procedures for sex abuse crimes committed by priests and gave bishops a year to deliberate the proposals in the wake of a global scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its very core.
‘The Guidelines… seek to protect minors and to help victims in finding assistance and reconciliation,’ the letter said, adding that it was up to bishops to notify the authorities regarding a suspected paedophile priest.
But victims’ groups, who have deplored the Vatican’s secrecy over sex crimes, slammed the guidelines as a ‘smoke screen signifying no change at all.’ The letter was published in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish, and urged bishops to ensure the Church gives ‘spiritual and psychological assistance’ to victims and their families.
The guidelines ‘not only concern cases of abuse committed by clerics, but also those cases which involve religious or lay persons who function in ecclesiastical situations,’ it said. — AFP
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