03/29/2019, 13.39
VATICAN
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Pope: new laws for the protection of minors

Francis issues three texts for the Vatican State extended to the Curia to "further strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework to prevent and combat abuses against children and vulnerable people".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has created a new law for the Vatican State extended to the Curia to "further strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework to prevent and combat abuses against children and vulnerable people".

There are three documents that establish principles and rules for the protection of minors and those who are assimilated to them due to physical or mental limitations. It starts from the affirmation of the Church's duty "to generously welcome minors and vulnerable people and to create a safe environment for them, having their interests as a matter of priority " to establish criminal principles against those who commit abuses, rules for defense and protection of the victims and also for the hiring of personnel and the behavior of pastoral workers who deal with minors.

Thus, in order to "prevent all forms of physical or mental violence or abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation", the Pope asks that "everyone should be aware of the duty to report abuses to the competent authorities and to cooperate with them in prevention and enforcement activities ”. A duty that is "an obligation", to be fulfilled "without delay" for Vatican public officials.

Abuses are also prosecuted ex officio, that is without a complaint being necessary, and the prescription "is twenty years and starts, in case of offense to a minor, from the age of eighteen." There are also guidelines for behavior for pastoral workers.

With regard to the victims, the new legislation establishes that victims and their families be offered "appropriate pastoral care, as well as adequate spiritual, medical, psychological and legal support". In this context there is the "accompanying service" which, in addition to offering a listening point, guarantees medical and social assistance to the victims and their families.

In the logic of prevention there will be "training programs for the staff of the Governorate about the risks in terms of exploitation, sexual abuse and child abuse, as well as the means to identify and prevent these offenses and the obligation to report" organized by the Labor Office of the Apostolic See in conjunction with the Accompanying Service, and also the fact that “in the selection and recruitment of the Governorate's staff, as well as of those who collaborate voluntarily, the suitability of the candidate for interact with minors ”.

All the principles concerning pastoral activities involving minors are also wide-ranging. Their protection "must be a priority". Therefore, in the course of their activities, pastoral workers must "use prudence and respect in relating to children", "provide them with positive reference models", "always be visible to others when they are in the presence of children", "report any potentially dangerous behavior to the responsible authority ".

They must also "respect the sphere of privacy of the child" and "inform the parents or guardians of the activities that are proposed and the related organizational methods". Pastoral workers are also required to "use due prudence in communicating with minors, including by telephone and on social networks".

It is also strictly forbidden for pastoral workers to "inflict corporal punishment of any kind", "to establish a preferential relationship with a single child", "to leave a child in a potentially dangerous situation for his mental or physical safety". It is also forbidden to "contact a minor in an offensive manner or to engage in inappropriate or sexually suggestive behavior" and "discriminate against a minor or a group of children".

Pastoral workers are then forbidden to "ask a child to keep a secret", ask a child to keep a secret and "give gifts to a child discriminating against the rest of the group".

Finally, it is forbidden to "photograph or film a child without the written consent of his parents or guardians" and "publish or disseminate, even via the web or social network, images that portray a child in a recognizable way without the consent of parents or guardians".

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