MEETING "THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IN THE CHURCH"
[Vatican’s New Synod Hall, 21-24 February 2019]
New Synod Hall
Thursday, 21 February 2019
1. To prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be
taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.
2. To equip oneself with listening structures that include
trained and expert people who can initially discern the cases of the
3. Establish the criteria for the direct involvement of the
Bishop or of the Religious Superior.
4. Implement shared procedures for the examination of the
charges, the protection of the victims and the right of defence of
5. Inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical
authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.
6. Make a periodic review of protocols and norms to safeguard a
protected environment for minors in all pastoral structures:
protocols and norms based on the integrated principles of justice
and charity so that the action of the Church in this matter is in
conformity with her mission.
7. Establish specific protocols for handling accusations against
8. Accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the
necessary support for a complete recovery.
9. Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual
abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious
Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.
10. Prepare pathways of pastoral care for communities injured by
abuses and penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators.
11. To consolidate the collaboration with all people of good will
and with the operators of mass media in order to recognize and
discern real cases from false ones and accusations of slander,
avoiding rancour and insinuations, rumours and defamation (cf.
Francis’ address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018).
12. To raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years.
13. Establish provisions that regulate and facilitate the
participation of lay experts in investigations and in the different
degrees of judgment of canonical processes concerning sexual and /
or power abuse.
14. The right to defence: the principle of natural and canon law
of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt
of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the
lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before
the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.
15. Observe the traditional principle of proportionality of
punishment with respect to the crime committed. To decide that
priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave the
16. Introduce rules concerning seminarians and candidates for the
priesthood or religious life. Be sure that there are programs of
initial and ongoing formation to help them develop their human,
spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal
relationships and their behaviour.
17. Be sure to have psychological evaluations by qualified and
accredited experts for candidates for the priesthood and consecrated
18. Establish norms governing the transfer of a seminarian or
religious aspirant from one seminary to another; as well as a priest
or religious from one diocese or congregation to another.
19. Formulate mandatory codes of conduct for all clerics,
religious, service personnel and volunteers to outline appropriate
boundaries in personal relationships. Be specific about the
necessary requirements for staff and volunteers and check their
20. Explain all information and data on the dangers of abuse and
its effects, how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report
suspected sexual abuse. All this must take place in collaboration
with parents, teachers, professionals and civil authorities.
21. Where it has not yet been in place, establish a group easily
accessible for victims who want to report any crimes. Such an
organization should have a certain autonomy with respect to the
local ecclesiastical authority and include expert persons (clerics
and laity) who know how to express the Church's attention to those
who have been offended by improper attitudes on the part of clerics.
Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office,
21 February 2019