Cardinal O'Malley: All Have Moral Responsibility to Report Suspected Abuse
All have a "moral and ethical responsibility” to report all suspected cases of sexual abuse to the civil authorities, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said in a statement issued yesterday.
He also stressed the Church's obligations "under civil law must certainly be followed."
The statement of the cardinal archbishop of Boston, who reiterated the Pope's words that the "crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer", was issued in response to "numerous requests from journalists" for clarification on the matter, the Vatican said.
Last week, it was reported that the Church was telling newly appointed bishops that it is “not necessarily” their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
The Vatican denied the reports, saying that comments by a French monsignor in a new Vatican instruction document for bishops were "mistakenly interpreted".
Here below is the full text of Cardinal O'Malley's statement:
“As Pope Francis has so clearly stated: ‘The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer. I pledge the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all’. We, the President and the Members of the Commission, wish to affirm that our obligations under civil law must certainly be followed, but even beyond these civil requirements, we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society.
In the United States, our Bishops’ Charter clearly states the obligation that all dioceses/eparchies and personnel report suspected abuse to the public authorities. Every year at our November meeting, at a training session for new bishops, this obligation is reaffirmed, and every other February the Conference runs a second training program for new bishops which also clearly and explicitly includes this obligation. As the Holy Father’s advisory commission for the protection of minors, we recently shared with Pope Francis an overview of the Commission’s extensive education efforts in local Churches over the past two years and reiterated the Members’ willingness to provide this material at courses offered in Rome, including to the annual training program for new bishops and to the offices of the Roman Curia for their use in their own child protection efforts”.
- cardinal sean o'malley
- pontifical commission for the protection of minors
- sexual abuse