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New regulations for abuse investigations are issued by the Pope

Pope Francis has taken it upon himself to issue new regulations for reporting and investigating allegations of sexual abuse by those within the Catholic Church in Hawaii and around the world. The edict came after a February conference on the subject that was attended by numerous bishops and cardinals throughout the world.

The conference was held to remedy a problem that has plagued the church for decades. For years, some people believed the Vatican procedures for investigating sexual abuse were inadequate. The new papal directive requires the dioceses of the church to report allegations of sexual abuse to the Vatican immediately. The Vatican will have 30 to determine if further investigation is warranted. If an investigation is conducted, it must be completed within 90 days.

In addition, every diocese must make reporting both confidential and without unnecessary burden for the person reporting abuse. Retribution against a person is not to be tolerated. The definition of an abused person is broader in scope than for previous papacies. It not only includes lay children and adults, but also nuns and seminarians. It also includes abuse of power situations caused by a church leader.

A victim has the right to report allegations of sexual misconduct to local law enforcement or handle the alleged abuse as a civil matter. In the latter case, a civil lawsuit can be filed against the perpetrator and the diocese. Having an attorney with experience as a victim advocate can be advisable.

Source: CBS News, "Pope Francis issues broad new Vatican law on reporting of sexual abuse and cover-up", May 9, 2019

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