New Vatican Rules on Abuse Encourage Whistle-Blowers—Like Archbishop Vigano, by Phil Lawler

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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture,  April 05, 2019

Credit Father Raymond de Souza with spotting an important point about the new Vatican legislation on sexual abuse. The rules require all Vatican personnel to report any evidence of sexual abuse to prosecutors. The legislation applies directly only within the territory of the Vatican city-state, but it has important implications.

First, it applies to Vatican diplomats serving in nunciatures, who might hear disquieting stories about clerics in the countries they serve; they are now required by law to report those stories to Vatican prosecutors.

Second, the law places low-ranking officials under a legal obligation to report, even if their superiors order them to be silent.

Third, this legislation is obviously intended as a model for other jurisdictions: an example of how the Vatican would like to see the problem handled in every country.

Fourth, as Father de Souza points out, the thrust of the legislation vindicates Archbishop Vigano, who was roundly criticized for failing to keep “diplomatic” secrets.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.