Nearly four years after Pope Francis enacted tougher measures against sex abuse in the Catholic Church, the Vatican announced broader and clearer rules on Saturday.
The Holy See presented an updated version of the apostolic exhortation “Vos estis lux mundi”, or “You are the light of the world”, issued in 2019. The pontiff confirmed the existing measures, but provided for innovations and extensions. The new version will take effect on April 30.
In 2019 the pope had reacted to criticisms that he was not doing enough about cases of abuse in the Church. At the heart of the decree at the time was the obligation of the entire Catholic Church to report cases of sexual abuse.
The obligation to immediately report cases of abuse and cover-ups applied in the original letter only to clergy and religious.
In the updated version, lay people at the head of international associations have now also been added. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Hans Zollner of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors described this as the most important change.
The new rules also expand the places people can report abuse by requiring the establishment of “bureaus and agencies” to receive such reports.
The old version spoke of “stable systems” which should be “easily accessible to the public”.