Safe Environments For Minors. Photo: Focolare

The Focolare Movement Publishes First Report on Cases of Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults

The Focolare Movement publishes the first report on cases of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults; on spiritual and authority abuses that occurred within the Movement, in relation to reparation measures, new inquiry procedures and training activities for the protection of the person.

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Stefania Tanesini

(ZENIT News / Makurdi, 04.11.2023).- In an open letter, the President of the Focolare Movement, Margaret Karram, and the Co-President, Jesus Morán, presented the first Report on the handling of abuse cases in the  Movement. The document, which will be renewed annually, was published on March 31, 2023, a year after the research carried out by GCPS Consulting firm on the serious cases of sexual abuse committed by a former French Focolare member, J.M.M.

The Movement has adopted the necessary measures to guarantee the prevention and integral protection of persons in all realms and environments where it carries out its activities. In the document published, the Movement’s President and co-President  explain  that it “is a first Report on the measures of prevention, investigation, transparency , formation and change undertaken by the Focolare Movement, to counteract this crime.” 

First of all, the President and Co-President apologize sincerely to each one of the victims and survivors in the name of the Focolare Movement. In addition, they express their profound gratitude to the victims and survivors, as well as to the families and communities involved not only in France, but in all countries where cases of abuse have arisen, because, thanks to their cooperation and, especially, their courage to address those crimes and bring them to light, the Movement is carrying out more conscientiously new commitments and procedures in regard to the protection of individuals 

The Report is divided into several parts and presents data regarding abuses notified to the Commission for the Wellbeing and Protection of the Person (CO.BE.TU.) since 2014, year of its creation and, hence, of the systematic compilation of notifications up to December 2022. 

Also presented is data on the “basic courses on the protection of the person,” carried out in the different countries where the Focolare Movement works. 

In addition, there is a section dedicated to the priority measures already implemented or in the process of implementation, taken in response to the recommendations of the independent research of the GCPS Consulting firm. The courses and tools of formation for the protection of the person are available to all the Movement’s members, especially the formators and companions of minors. Formation activities are already underway for leaders of the Movement at different levels: from the central management to territorial leaders in the different geographic areas. 

Novelty: The Independent Central Commission and the Procedures for Notifications, Complaints and Investigation

The Independent Central Commission will begin its functions on May 1, 2023 and will finalize the task of the CO.BE.TU. The new body will be concerned exclusively with the handling of the notifications, and formation will be coordinated at the central and local level by another team of experts and consultants. 

The Report also presents the “Protocol for the Handling of Abuse Cases in the Focolare Movement,” the “Competencies oof the Independent Central Commission” and the “Lines of support and financial reparation in cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” 

In regard to notification procedures, complaints and investigation in countries where complaints are obligatory, the notification is transmitted immediately to the judicial authorities. If the national legislation does not provide for an obligatory complaint, but all the facts constitute a crime, the Commission will present immediately the complaint to the judicial authorities after verifying the truth of the deeds, unless the victim or his/her parents are opposed to it. In keeping with international legislative norms, the notification of an abuse will take place also, even if the crime was already statute barred.

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