Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP
Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Thursday passed a measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors, following a global clerical paedophilia scandal. Every diocese in the world will now be obliged to have a system for the reporting of abuse, under a new law published by the Vatican — but the requirement will not apply to secrets revealed to priests in the confessional.

It is time to learn from the “bitter lessons of the past”, Francis said in the text of the legal decree. It follows a series of clerical assault cases in countries ranging from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US. The “Motu Proprio”, a legal document issued under the pope’s personal authority, declares that anyone who has knowledge of abuse, or suspects it, is “obliged to report (it) promptly” to the Church, using “easily accessible systems”.

“Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept” within the Church, said Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Vatican’s communications department. The law only applies within the Church and has no force to oblige individuals to report abuse to civil authorities.

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