Pope Francis Issues Child Protection Laws For Vatican City State

Pope Francis Friday issued new laws and guidelines on the protection of minors for those working within Vatican City State and the Roman Curia, including the obligation to report abuse.

Under the new law, promulgated by the pope March 29, officials of the Roman Curia and Vatican City State are obliged to report “without delay” any knowledge or well-founded suspicion of abuse against a minor or vulnerable adult learned in the exercise of their position – though with the obvious exception of information learned only within confession, which is protected by the sacramental seal.

The failure to report abuse in a timely manner is punishable by a fine of 1,000 to 5,000 euros (about $1,123-$5,616). Promulgated in an apostolic letter issued “motu proprio,” the law and guidelines go into effect June 1.

In addition to mandatory reporting, the new laws introduce protections and services for victims of abuse, and require the hiring process within the governorate of Vatican City to include a determination of a candidate’s suitability to interact with minors.

The law also establishes an expanded definition of the term “vulnerable persons,” which it says is anyone “in an infirm state, of physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal freedom, that in fact, even occasionally, limits their capacity to intend or to want or in any way to resist the offense.”