Strong Church anti-abuse protocols need improving

anti-abuse protocols

The Church’s strong anti-abuse protocols are enshrined in law says Jesuit priest Hans Zollner, but they are not being universally applied.

“More broadly, the norms adopted by Rome indicate the right direction, but we currently have no mechanism to monitor their implementation.”

Zollner, director of the Institute of Anthropology at Rome’s Gregorian University, believes the summit Pope Francis called in 2019 to deal with abuse was a major step in the right direction.

The problem is that the rules and procedures the Church adopted after the summit aren’t being applied sufficiently or evenly at the local level, he says.

At the universal level, several norms have been established. They apply to the whole church Zollner says.

One is the Vox estis lux mundi (you are the light of the world) motu proprio by Pope Francis.

Promulgated in May 2019, it established new procedural norms that have since been consolidated to combat sexual abuse and ensure that bishops and religious superiors are held accountable for their actions.

It also expects all clerics, and men and women religious, to report to their superiors any sexual and spiritual abuse they become aware of.

Zollner notes the law is not perfect in any institution, and improvements to the current regulations could be made – to canon law, for instance.

He says canonical processes must become more transparent, and procedures and systems must be applied appropriately everywhere.

“If we want new legislation to have a lasting and profound effect, it must be accompanied by a change in attitude” he says.

Transparency needed

Like Zollner, a woman who says she suffered spiritual and sexual abuse by a priest wants the new anti-abuse protocols to be properly implemented and monitored.

Gloria Branciani is demanding transparency from the Vatican and a full accounting of the hierarchs who for 30 years covered for her much-exalted abuser.

Branciani, who was a consecrated member of the Loyola Community, has detailed the alleged abuses of the celebrated Jesuit artist Marko Rupnik.

He had a fondness for three-way sex “in the image of the Trinity” Branciani says.

If this is found to be the case, it could constitute a grave perversion of Catholic doctrine known as false mysticism.

Another former Loyola Community member, Mirjam Kovac, spoke of the “spiritual abuse and abuse of conscience” Rupnik forced upon her.

The two former nuns said they hope now to obtain truth and justice, without any “personal revenge”.

Vatican response

The Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) has contacted several institutions to obtain documentation related to Rupnik.

Last October, Pope Francis entrusted the DDF with the task of examining the case after deciding to “waive the statute of limitations to allow the proceedings to take place”.

His decision followed PCPM reports last September detailing “serious problems” in the handling of the Rupnik case and “the lack of closeness to the victims”.

“After expanding the search … it will now be necessary to study the acquired documentation in order to identify which procedures can and should be implemented” the Vatican Press Office says.

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News category: World.

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