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Pope takes hard line on abuse


The Pope has outlined new rules for the whole Church against those who abuse minors or cover up child sexual abuse.

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In his apostolic letter announcing the norms, Pope Francis stressed that crimes of sexual abuse “offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful”.

“In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the gospel message and the effectiveness of the Church’s mission,” he wrote.

“Even if so much has already been accomplished, we must continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future.”

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who represented the nation’s bishops at a meeting on the abuse crisis at the Vatican in February, said the publication of Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You are the Light of the World) was the latest concrete outcome of that unprecedented gathering.

“The release of this document less than three months after the meeting shows that, for Pope Francis, the updating of universal Church law on the investigation and reporting of abuse against children and other vulnerable people is a real priority,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“It’s a priority the Australian bishops share. Now all bishops conferences and religious congregations around the world will have to meet more rigorous standards. That’s a good thing.”

Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ said the Church in South Australia would continue to implement protocols that go beyond the reporting requirements of the recent papal document.

“We will continue to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep children and young people safe in our Church. It is our priority to make sure all, especially the leaders of our schools, parishes and agencies with responsibility for the young, to remain knowledgeable about the signs and indicators of child abuse and the responsibility to act on all situations of child abuse, including reporting to statutory authorities.

“Our Child Protection Office was established 15 years ago and continues to be a crucial resource and support for our Catholic community in this regard.

“We welcome the apostolic letter and greater consistency this provides to a whole of Church response to child protection.”

For information on our Child Protection Policies and procedures please visit our website on



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