KOCHI: The Catholic Church in the state has welcomed Pope Francis’ decision to make it mandatory for the clergy to report sexual abuse cases.
This assumes significance as the sanctity of those wearing white cassock has been under scrutiny after clergy members of different Christian denominations were caught in rape and molestation charges. In an Apostolic letter, the Pope made it clear that any sexual advance involving the use of power will now be considered abusive. The message is a strong directive to the Church hierarchy that none will be exempt from scrutiny.
The Kerala Catholics Bishop Council (KCBC) welcomed the new directive saying that it will be implemented in toto.
“We take actions against those who are found guilty. We have already established a system for this. We will not support anyone who indulges in vices. We have been taking action and will continue to do so. The Pope’s order will be implemented in toto,” said Fr Varghese Vallikkatt, KCBC Secretary.The Pope’s directive has come at a time when Church authorities are accused of targeting four nuns who have publicly protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
Already, a section of believers has been relentlessly demanding to bring in reforms in Church practices after priests were found to be repeatedly resorting to criminal activities because of the support they receive from the Church.
As per a report in international media, the Pope’s new law requires all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to the church authorities. “The new edict provides whistleblower protections for anyone making a report and requires all dioceses to have a system in place to receive the claims confidentially. It outlines procedures for conducting preliminary investigations when the accused is a Bishop, Cardinal or religious superior,” the report said.