Bishops' Conference of Italy Approves 5 Points of Action for Prevention of Abuse - after Listening to Cardinal O'Malley's Message - FULL TEXT
The Catholic bishops of Italy under their new leadership of Cardinal Mario Zuppi released the final commiqué from their 76th General Assembly, held in Rome. (23 to 27 May 2022)
During the assembly the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley provided a video message with 7 points of action to prevent abuse (see full text below).
The General Assembly also approved a determination with five lines of action for a more effective prevention of the phenomenon of abuse of minors and vulnerable people. The Bishops, sensitive and close to the pain of the victims and survivors of all forms of abuse, reaffirmed their readiness to listen, to dialogue and to the search for truth and justice. Moreover, a commitment already undertaken with the 2019 Guidelines .
The video message of Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, with appreciation for the efforts of the Churches in Italy, was received by the Bishops with gratitude, in particular for the encouragement expressed to continue on the road taken. This is a sign of a collaboration that has intensified in recent months between the CEI and the Pontifical Commission.
1. The Bishops' decision aims to strengthen the network of diocesan referents and related services for the protection of minors and vulnerable people. Already established starting from 2019 in all 226 Italian dioceses, this reality will now be supported with training courses aimed at pastoral workers (priests, men and women religious, catechists, educators, teachers of religion ...) and those called to deal with legal aspects . With this action, it is intended to promote, even more widely, a culture of respect and dignity for minors and vulnerable people.
2. The commitment was then reiterated to implement the establishment of the Hearing Centers, which currently cover 70% of the Italian dioceses, to welcome and listen to those who want to report recent or past abuses, and to address to those in charge according to the need expressed by the people: a doctor, a psychologist, a lawyer, the judiciary, the police, a spiritual companion, a couple counselor, etc. Listening Centers are an open door to places close to people (a family counseling center, a professional office, etc.), with trained leaders - mostly lay and lay people - available for first listening, a service that is proving to be very valuable .
3. The Bishops have also decided to produce a first national report on prevention and training activities and on cases of abuse reported or reported to the diocesan and interdiocesan services network in the last two years (2020-2021). The data will be collected and analyzed by an academic research center. The reports will then be held annually and will constitute a valuable tool for improving, in terms of quality and effectiveness, the training action of the Services and that of welcoming and listening to the Centers. They will then give a signal of transparency, since they will be made public. The Churches in Italy thus accepted Pope Francis' invitation to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which asked for "a report on the Church's initiatives for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults".
4. Thanks to a new space for collaboration opened in recent months with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it will then be possible to know and analyze, in a quantitative and qualitative way, the data kept in the same Congregation, guaranteeing due confidentiality. These data refer to alleged or ascertained crimes perpetrated by clerics in Italy in the period 2000-2021. The analysis will be conducted in collaboration with independent research institutes, which will guarantee high-level scientific and moral profiles, and will allow for a deeper and more objective knowledge of the phenomenon. This will make it possible to improve prevention and contrast measures, to accompany victims and survivors with greater awareness and to refine the criteria for other research.
5. Finally, as already announced, the CEI is now participating as a permanent guest at the Observatory for the fight against pedophilia and child pornography, established by law 269/1998. The Bishops took note with great favor of this possibility of collaboration with public institutions for the study and monitoring of the prevention and contrast of sexual abuse and exploitation to the detriment of minors throughout Italian society.
These five lines of action are not a closed list to possible developments, far from it: it is the will of the Bishops to take any step so that the phenomenon of abuse is resolutely opposed, promoting safe environments and suitable for the smallest and most vulnerable.
Source: Excerpt from https://www.chiesacattolica.it/76a-assemblea-generale-il-comunicato-finale/