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'We can no longer remain silent...': Bishops called to shoulder more responsibility
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Cardinal Sean O'Malley has made a stand to call all bishops to shoulder more responsibility to keep abuse victims safe from future attacks.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - O'Malley has been working to support his updated rules for reporting clerical sex abuse.
The current Vatican guidelines call for bishops to report suspected abuse to authorities only if the law requires them to do so.
O'Malley released a statement calling Roman Catholic bishops to maintain their "moral and ethical responsibility" to report instances of clerical sex abuse - laws or no.
"The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must not be kept secret for any longer. I pledge the zealous vigilance of the church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all," O'Malley said, quoting Pope Francis.
The Cardinal reminded their "obligations under civil law must certainly be followed."
Beyond the civil requirements, O'Malley reminded bishops that "we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society."
The statement, released by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, came after false reports - of the Vatican telling new bishops that they don't have to report sexual abuse - began to circulate.
He wrote, "it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds," adding the decision should be left to the victim and their family.
The press read the statement as a means for further sexual cover-ups and for clergy to disregard laws requiring the discovery of such information to be reported.
Bill Kilgallon, a member of the commission and director of the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand, said, "We've already recommended to the Pope the establishment of a system of holding bishops and religious superiors to account who don't apply the appropriate guidelines, and don't deal with the matter of sexual abuse properly.
"In discussions with people from countries across the world, the need for those guidelines and the effect of guidelines is apparent."
Kilagallon was careful to stress that the guidelines "are only the beginning," as Church leadership education is another important requirement to help stop all forms of abuse.
While education is important, changing canon law is also an important step toward a brighter future.
"That's very important," Kilagallon added. "That's been highlighted...we have a group working on [changing canon law]. So there are a number of things happening that I think point to a positive future."
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