Vicariate of Vatican City
GUIDELINES FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE PERSONS
26 March 2019
The Holy Father Pope Francis
- recalling the Chirograph of
Paul II On the Spiritual Care in the Vatican City, of 14 January 1991;
Law No. CCXCVII, On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons, of 26 March 2019;
- bearing in mind the particular
nature of the pastoral activities carried out in the Vatican City State;
- desiring to introduce specific
measures, within the sphere of the Vicariate of Vatican City, for the care and
protection of minors and vulnerable persons;
has adopted the following
Ensuring the safety of minors and vulnerable people is an integral part of the
Church’s mission. The Vicariate of Vatican City, to which is entrusted the
pastoral care of the faithful residing in the State, as well as in the
Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo, participates fully in this mission, firmly
rooted in the conviction that each person has a unique value, being created in
the image and likeness of God. In fact, “the effective protection of minors and
a commitment to ensure their human and spiritual development, in keeping with
the dignity of the human person, are integral parts of the Gospel message that
the Church and all members of the faithful are called to spread throughout the
world” (Chirograph for the institution of the Pontifical Commission for the
Protection of Minors, of 22 March 2014).
A. Scope of Application
Canon law and the legislation of Vatican City State regarding the protection of
minors and vulnerable persons must be scrupulously respected.
The policies and procedures contained in these guidelines are aimed at
establishing and maintaining an ecclesial community that is respectful and
mindful of the rights and the needs of minors and vulnerable persons, as well as
at being vigilant to the risks of exploitation, sexual abuse and ill-treatment
in the context of the activities carried out within the sphere of the Vicariate
of Vatican City. They are addressed to:
- the canons, the coadjutors and the
clergy of St. Peter’s Basilica;
- the parish priests and the
coadjutors of St. Peter’s and St. Ann’s parishes in the Vatican;
- the chaplains and spiritual
assistants who have received a pastoral assignment from the Vicar General;
- the priests, deacons and educators
of the Minor Seminary of St. Pius X;
- the members of Institutes of
consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life who reside permanently in the
Vatican City State;
- all those who, for any reason,
serve, individually or collectively, within the ecclesial community of the
Vicariate of the Vatican City.
For the purposes of these guidelines, “vulnerable persons” are to be considered
equivalent to “minors”.
B. The Contact Person for the protection of minors
The Vicar General shall appoint a Contact Person for the protection of minors
who shall coordinate and verify the implementation of the present guidelines so
that, within the Vicariate, there is a community respectful and mindful of the
rights and the needs of minors, as well as being vigilant in preventing any form
of violence or abuse. The Contact Person shall coordinate the prevention and
training activities of pastoral workers and shall take particular care to
welcome and support those who claim to have suffered exploitation, sexual abuse
or ill-treatment, as well as their families.
The Contact Person avails himself of the professional assistance of the Support
Service managed by the Department for Health and Hygiene of the Governorate and
of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See.
C. Pastoral workers
1. In the selection of pastoral workers, the suitability of the candidates to
interact with minors must be ascertained through an adequate investigation, as
well as by verifying the absence of any previous judicial charges.
2. Pastoral workers must receive adequate training on the risks of exploitation,
sexual abuse and ill-treatment of minors, as well as on the ways to identify and
to prevent those offences. They are be required to participate in the training
programmes organized by the Labour Office of the Apostolic See in coordination
with the Support Service.
3. Occasional collaborators are to be informed about the conduct to be observed
when interacting with minors, as well as about forbidden conduct.
D. Pastoral activities
1. In pastoral activities involving minors, their protection must be a priority.
Therefore, in the course of their activities, pastoral workers must:
- show prudence and respect when
interacting with minors;
- be positive role models;
- when they are in the presence of
minors, be always visible to others;
- report to the Contact Person any
potentially dangerous behavior;
- respect the private sphere of the
- inform the parents or guardians of
any activities proposed as well as of their practical arrangements;
- exercise due prudence when
communicating with minors, including by telephone or on social networks.
2. It is strictly forbidden for pastoral workers to:
- inflict corporal punishments of any
- establish a preferential
relationship with an specific minor;
- place a minor in a situation
potentially dangerous to his or her mental or physical safety;
- address a minor in an offensive
manner or engage in inappropriate or sexually suggestive behavior;
- discriminate against a minor or a
group of minors;
- ask a minor to keep a secret;
- give gifts to a minor distinguishing
him from the rest of the group;
- photograph or film a minor without
the written consent of his parents or guardians;
- publish or disseminate, including
via the web or social networks, images portraying a minor in a recognizable way
without the consent of parents or guardians.
3. Pastoral activities shall be carried out on premises suitable for the age and
stage of development of minors. As far as possible, pastoral workers must take
particular care to ensure that minors do not enter or remain in places hidden
from sight or out of their control.
4. Any inappropriate behaviour or bullying that may occur among minors, even if
it does not constitute a crime, must be promptly addressed in a balanced,
prudent and sensitive manner, informing immediately the parents or guardians.
E. Informed consent of parents or guardians
1. It is indispensable to obtain the written consent of the parents or guardians
for the participation of minors in pastoral activities. The parents and
guardians shall be informed of the proposed activities, as well as of the names
and contact information of the persons responsible.
2. The written consent of parents or guardians is required for photographing or
filming minors, for publishing any photographs or videos that portray them, as
well as for making direct contact with minors, even by telephone or through
3. The documents of consent containing sensitive personal data shall be kept on
record carefully and diligently.
F. Treatment of reports of alleged exploitation, sexual abuse or ill-treatment
1. Those who affirm that they have suffered exploitation, sexual abuse or
ill-treatment in an ecclesial context, as well as their families, have the right
to be welcomed, listened to and supported. The Vicar General, directly or
through the Contact Person for the protection of minors, shall listen to them,
making certain that they receive adequate spiritual assistance and protecting
their good name and privacy, as well as the confidentiality of their personal
data. The Vicar General may entrust the spiritual accompaniment of the offended
persons and of their relatives to a qualified priest.
2. To the offended persons shall also be offered medical and social assistance,
including emergency therapeutic and psychological assistance, as well as useful
information of a legal nature, including through the Support Service managed by
the Department for Health and Hygiene.
3. Without prejudice to the sacramental seal, pastoral workers, assistants and
volunteers who have knowledge of a minor being a victim of exploitation, sexual
abuse or ill-treatment, shall inform the Vicar General directly or through the
Contact Person for the protection of minors.
4. The Vicar General or the Contact Person shall ask the author of the report to
formalize it in writing, for the purpose also of transmitting it to the Promoter
of Justice of the Tribunal of Vatican City State. The author of the report shall
be encouraged to present the complaint directly to the Promoter of Justice of
the Tribunal of Vatican City State.
5. If the alleged wrongdoer is a cleric or a member of an Institute of
consecrated life or of a Society of apostolic life, the Vicar General, having
received the report, shall communicate it without delay to the Ordinary or Major
Superior of the person reported.
6. Whenever the report is not manifestly unfounded, the Vicar General shall
inform the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of Vatican City State and shall
remove the presumed wrongdoer from the pastoral activities of the Vicariate.
7. In the event that there is a written and justified objection from the
offended person or from his legal representatives, or the offended person
refuses to formalize the report in writing, the Vicar General shall not inform
the Promoter of Justice unless, having heard the Contact Person for the
protection of minors, he deems it necessary to protect the offended person or
other minors from danger.
8. In the cases that fall within his competence, and without prejudice to the
investigations conducted by civil authorities, the Vicar General carries out,
personally or through a priest expert in procedural matters and prudent in
discernment, the preliminary investigation foreseen by can. 1717 CIC. The
investigation is conducted as a priority.
9. When required by the circumstances, the competent Ordinary may delegate the
competence to conduct the preliminary investigation to the Vicar General.
10. In the course of the proceedings, the criminal conduct, the personal data
and the age of the offended persons, the damage caused and the possible
connection with the sacramental forum shall be verified. Documents, evidence and
testimonies from the various areas and spaces where the suspected person has
operated can be collected. The Vicar General may also avail himself of any
statements, testimonies, documents and expert opinions collected in the course
of the investigations by civil authorities, as well as any judgments or
decisions regarding the subject matter of the investigation by the judicial
organs of the State. To that end, the Vicar General may suspend the proceedings
pending the conclusion of the investigation by civil authorities.
11. In the course of the proceedings, care shall be taken to:
a) seek the healing of every person involved;
b) obtain without delay and in an adequate manner the
deposition of the offended person;
c) refer the offended person to the Support Service
managed by the Department for Health and Hygiene;
d) explain to the offended person his rights and the ways to
exercise them, including the possibility of providing, directly or through an
intermediary, evidence and of asking to be heard;
e) to inform the offended person, if he requests, of the
results of the various phases of the proceedings;
f) encourage the offended person to avail himself of the
assistance of civil and canonical legal advisors;
g) safeguard the offended person and his family from any
intimidation or retaliation;
h) protect the good name and the privacy of the offended
person, as well as the confidentiality of his personal data.
12. The presumption of innocence shall be always guaranteed, protecting the
reputation of the accused. Unless there are serious reasons to the contrary, the
accused shall be informed promptly of the charges against him, in order to
enable him to defend himself. He shall be invited to avail himself of the
assistance of civil and canonical legal advisors. He shall also be offered
spiritual and psychological assistance.
13. Where there are reasons to believe that the offences may be repeated,
appropriate precautionary measures shall be adopted without delay.
14. If the investigation concludes that it was likely that the crime was
committed, the Vicar General shall submit the case to the competent Dicastery.
Otherwise, the Vicar General shall issue a motivated decree dismissing the case,
keeping in his archive the necessary documentation corroborating the actions
taken and the reasons for the decision taken.
15. Anyone found guilty of committing one of the crimes referred
to in Article 1 of
Law No. CCXCVII, On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons,
of 26 March 2019, shall be removed from his responsibilities; he shall be
offered adequate support for his psychological and spiritual rehabilitation,
also in view of his social reintegration.
I dispose that these guidelines be observed ad experimentum for a period of three years.
Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, 26 March of the year 2019, the seventh of the