Vatican launches website after child sex abuse scandals

By Delia Gallagher
December 6, 2016

ROME (CNN) -- The Vatican has launched a new website detailing its efforts to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy.

It's the first time the Vatican is publishing the documents and resources in one place, including an email and phone number to contact its commission for the protection of minors.

The commission was established in 2013 and is headed by Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

"It is very important to the Commission that we are as transparent as possible," project coordinator Emer McCarthy told CNN Tuesday. "Our members want people to know that they are doing their level best to carry out the commission of the Holy Father."

"Much of the work of the Commission is listening, study and reflection, so there will not be day-to-day updates, but the website is the vehicle to let people know that we are here," she added.

'Comply with authorities'

The website includes a template for local churches around the world to use in establishing their own norms for protecting minors from clerical sex abuse.

McCarthy said the website aims to reach communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia, which have received less attention about child abuse than congregations in the United States and Europe have.

The guidelines include verifying people's identities when recruiting clergy, employees and volunteers for Catholic church activities, and vetting them for criminal records.

The website also recommends "full information sharing" when priests are seeking to transfer from one diocese to another.

Critics of the Catholic Church say that for decades, bishops shuffled priests accused of abuse from one parish to another rather than confronting the problem.

The website reinforces the official line that, when accusations surface: "the Church will comply with the relevant authority. This should include any civil requirements on mandatory reporting... There should be a clear statement about referral of criminal behavior to the police or relevant authority."

The Vatican first reported comprehensive statistics two years ago on the number of priests who were removed from ministry for sexual abuse.

From about 2004 to 2014, the report said, 848 priests were defrocked, with 2,572 receiving lesser penalties. The pace increased in the last two years of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate, with 384 of those 848 being defrocked in 2011 and 2012.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles abuse cases, told CNN Tuesday that no statistics were available for the outcome of sex abuse cases under Pope Francis.

He became Pope in 2013.


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