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Palm Beach Diocese pleased with new rules about reporting sex abuse: victims, advocates see problems

Posted at 4:31 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 17:43:39-04

Pope Francis issued new church rules this week, requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sex abuse, and cover-up by their superiors, to church authorities.

The new rules out of the Vatican give whistle-blower protections for anyone making a report to their superiors. They also require all dioceses around the world to establish a system in place to receive the claims confidentially.

But advocates and victims point out that while it's a start, there are major problems with the rules.

While priests and religious sisters are to report to their Superiors, they do not have to report anything to law enforcement.

Advocate Patrick Wall, a world-renowned expert on the Catholic clergy abuse crisis, points out the procedure also does not mandate bishops report to civil authorities.

Plus, any information given to church authorities will remain confidential. The law also doesn't specify clear penalties for someone failing to report to their superiors.

Some victims worry the bishops who have or could have covered up claims in the past, would now be in charge of new claims as well.

The Diocese of Palm Beach says they are pleased, giving us this statement.

“We are very pleased with the norms promulgated by Pope Francis regarding a worldwide response to the evil of sexual abuse. The Pope acted promptly and definitively in regard to creating universal norms as discussed at the worldwide meeting of Bishops, which recently took place in Rome. They are a confirmation of so many of the procedures already in effect through the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in the United States and in our diocese. As they affirm our local policies and procedures, we look forward to their implementation around the world as a concrete manifestation of the Church’s universal and complete commitment to the protection of young people and vulnerable adults.”

-- Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach