Following is ZENIT’s working translation of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter in the Form of a “Motu Proprio” on the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons presented by the Vatican on March 29, 2019.
The Supreme Pontiff Francis’ Apostolic Letter in the Form of a
“Motu Proprio” on the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons
The protection of minors and of vulnerable persons is an integral part of the evangelical message, which the Church and all her members are called to spread in the world. Christ Himself, in fact, entrusted us with the care and protection of the littlest and defenseless: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5). Therefore, we all have the duty to receive minors and vulnerable persons with generosity, to create for them a safe environment, having their interests as a priority. This requires a continuous and profound conversion, in which personal holiness and moral commitment can concur to promote the credibility of the evangelical proclamation and the renewal of the Church’s educational mission.
Therefore, I wish to reinforce further the institutional and normative order to prevent and counteract abuses against minors and vulnerable persons, so that in the Roman Curia and in Vatican City State:
- a respectful community is maintained, conscious of the rights and needs of minors and of vulnerable person, as well as attention to prevent any form of physical or psychic violence or abuse, abandonment, negligence, mistreatment or exploitation that can occur, be it in interpersonal relations or in structures and places of sharing;
- the awareness matures in all of the duty to point out abuses to the competent authorities and to cooperate with them in the activity of prevention and counteraction;
- the right is recognized of those that affirm having been victims of exploitation, sexual abuse or mistreatment, as well as of their families, to be received, listened to and accompanied;
- the victims and their families are offered appropriate pastoral care, as well as adequate spiritual, medical, psychological and legal support;
- the accused is guaranteed the right to a fair and impartial trial, in respect of the presumption of innocence, as well as of the principles of legality and proportionality between the offense and the penalty.
- the condemned be removed from his assignments for having abused a minor or a vulnerable person and, at the same time, that they be offered adequate support for their psychological and spiritual rehabilitation, also in view of social reinsertion;
- that everything possible be done to rehabilitate the good reputation of one who is unjustly accused.
- that an adequate formation be offered for the protection of minors and of vulnerable persons.
Therefore, with the present Letter, I establish that:
- The competent courts of Vatican City State exercise the criminal jurisdiction also in order of the crimes of which Articles 1 and 3 of the N.CCXCVII Law, on the protection of minors and of vulnerable persons, of March 26, 2019, committed on the occasion of the exercise of their functions, by the individuals referred to in point 3 of the Motu Proprio “In Our Times,” of July 11, 2013.
- Except the sacramental seal, the individuals of which point 3 of the Motu Proprio “In Our Times,” of July 11, 2013, are obliged to present, without delay, a denunciation to the Promoter of Justice at the Court of Vatican City State whenever, in the exercise of their functions, they have information or grounded motive for holding that a minor or a vulnerable person is a victim of one of the offenses of which Article 1 of the N.CCXCVII Law, committed also alternatively:
- in the territory of the State;
- in detriment of the citizens or residents in the State;
- on the occasion of the exercise of their functions, by public officials of the State or by individuals of which point 3 of the Motu Proprio “In Our Times,” of July 11, 2013.
- To the persons offended by the crimes of which Article 1 of the N. CCXCVII Law, spiritual, medical and social assistance is offered, including urgent therapeutic and psychological assistance, as well as useful information of a legal nature, through the Service of Accompaniment managed by the Health and Hygiene Office of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
- The Labour Office of the Apostolic See organizes, in concert with the Service of Accompaniment of the Health and Hygiene Office, programs of formation for the personnel of the Roman Curia and of the Institutions connected with the Holy See, about the risks in the matter of exploitation, sexual abuse and mistreatment of minors and of vulnerable persons, as well as on the means to identify and prevent such offenses and on the obligation to denounce them.
- In the selection and assumption of the personnel of the Roman Curia and of the Institutions connected with the Holy See, as well as those that collaborate as volunteers, the suitability of the candidate must be ascertained to integrate with minors and with vulnerable persons.
- The Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the Institutions connected with the Holy See, to which minors and vulnerable persons have access, must adopt, with the assistance of the Service of Accompaniment of the Health and Hygiene Office, good practices and guidelines for their protection.
I establish that the present Apostolic Letter in the form of a “Motu Proprio” be promulgated through the publication in L’Osservatore Romano and, subsequently, inserted in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. I decree that the provisions have full and stable value, also abrogating all the incompatible dispositions, beginning on June 1, 2019.
Given in Rome at Saint Peter’s, on March 26 of the year 2019, seventh of the Pontificate.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]