The Clergy is not Above the Law: The Pope Introduces Mandatory Reporting for Allegations of Sexual Assault and Child Abuse
In February 2019, Pope Francis announced that he would mandate the reporting of sexual assault and child abuse by the clergy and church officials.
Pope Francis released an Apostolic Letter which reads, “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful”. The mandatory reporting applies to:
- Forcing someone (by violence, threats or abuse of authority) to perform or submit to a sexual act;
- Performing sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person; and
- The production, exhibition, possession or distribution of child pornography.
Prior to this, the reporting of sexual assault and child abuse by the clergy was seen as a matter of “individual discretion”. This “ideology” allowed an environment for child abuse to manifest. The cover ups were also assumed by the highest members of the Church. One only needs to look at the recent convictions of Cardinal George Pell and Archbishop Wilson.
This is an important milestone. The Church has long needed to come to grips with the fact that the Church is not above the law. These laws have long mandated the reporting of sexual assault and child abuse. It shows the public that the Clergy is not above the law.
The mandatory reporting will assist in protecting vulnerable children in the future from sexual assault and child abuse.
These steps have been a long time coming but we welcome such an evolution.
What about Me? I was abused when I was a child and nothing was done to protect me?
The Church has a long way to go in righting the wrongs of the Church’s history. Not only by the paedophile acts of the clergy members, but by the knowledge that the other clergy and church officials had of child abuse.
That is why we have a team of child abuse lawyers at Koffels. We acknowledge the effects that sexual assault and child abuse has on young vulnerable children.
We also acknowledge that the effects of the sexual assault and child abuse often permeate throughout and pervade a person’s life. That is why we fight hard for justice and compensation for child abuse victims.
There is a misconception among victims who believe that they are not entitled to compensation because the sexual assault and child abuse happened some time ago. However, this is not the case. There is no time limit on claims for victims of child sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.
If you, or anyone you know, has been a victim of sexual assault and child abuse, please contact Koffels Solicitors and speak to one of our child abuse lawyers for a confidential discussion.