The Vatican has new guidelines just issued that require Vatican officials and diplomats serving abroad to report suspected sexual abuse to the Vatican's internal judicial authorities.
Pope Francis wrote in a letter that there was a need to report suspected abuse “to the competent authorities” and that officials who do not do so will be fined up to 5,000 euros or spend six months in prison.
As the Vatican has grappled with a massive increase in scrutiny worldwide over its sexual abuse problem among the clergy, the pope has faced criticism over the slow response and lack of meaningful steps taken.
This new legislation finally puts an official policy in place for individuals at the Vatican and representing the church abroad. But it is far from a real solution to the problem. This is more like trying to treat a dismembered arm with a single small Band-Aid.
This news comes days after the founder and writing staff of the Vatican's women's magazine, all women themselves, resigned over the Vatican's alleged work to undermine their reporting on the abuse of nuns.
Lucetta Scaraffia started the Women Church World magazine seven years ago, but on Tuesday it was announced that the staff had all quit. They cited increasing pressure from the men running the Vatican's internal media, especially after the women's magazine had covered the sexual abuse of nuns in February.
Because of the magazine's coverage of the story, Pope Francis himself was forced to comment on the horrible abuse some nuns have had to endure from priests.
Scaraffia noted that the Vatican's internal newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano had been publishing pieces that were contradicting Women Church World articles. “We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of mistrust and progressive delegitimization,” the she wrote in an open letter to Pope Francis.
On why she found it necessary to publish the story about the abuse suffered by nuns, Scaraffia wrote, “We couldn’t stay silent anymore; the trust that so many women had put in us would have been gravely wounded."
Overall, I find Francis's new rules a "bare minimum" attempt to make some headway on the problem, a paltry move to appear like they are doing something. And with this happening the same week as the staff of the women's magazine all resigning, it means that I still fail to see any real progress being made with the Vatican.
But then again, what do you expect from a guy who blames it all on the Devil?