Vatican News: Pope Affirms “You are the Light of the World” Guidebook, Intensifying Battle against Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis has amended the encyclical to prevent and stop sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, adding that “lay leaders of international societies of the faithful recognized or established by the Holy See are responsible for these crimes”. The new version of the handbook will come into force on April 30.

(Vatican News Network) after nearly 4 years of trial implementation, and after consultation with various bishops’ conferences and ministries of the Holy See, Pope Francis finally issued a procedure to prevent and stop sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The new version of the “You are the Light of the World” handbook was published on March 25 and entered into force on April 30, while rescinding the previous version from May 2019, in order to affirm the will to continue fighting these crimes.

The greatest novelty introduced in the new version of the canon is the content of the “Second Title”, that is, the responsibilities of bishops, superiors, and clergy who lead a local church or a diocesan. It is now added the responsibility for these crimes of “lay leaders of international associations of the faithful recognized or established by the Holy See, including during their time in office”.

In addition, the new canon has made many other amendments, bringing the Manuscript Ye the Light of the World into line with other canonical reforms introduced since 2019, in particular with the Manuscript “Protecting the Sacredness of the Sacraments”, revised in 2021, 2021 The sixth volume of the “Catholic Law Code” revised in 2022, and the content of the new charter of the Holy See of Rome “Go and Proclaim the Gospel” issued in 2022.

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One example of these revisions concerns “vulnerable” adults. Whereas the old edition spoke of “sexual assault of a minor or vulnerable person,” the new edition specifies “the offense of the Sixth Commandment of the Ten Commandments against a minor or habitually imperfect use of reason, or a vulnerable adult.” . Another amendment concerns the protection of persons who report alleged violators.

The old version stipulated that “they cannot be bound to remain silent about the content of the report”, and now this protection is added, in addition to the whistleblower, it also includes “persons and witnesses who say they have been harmed”. In addition, the part requiring “just protection of the reputation and private sphere of all persons involved” has also been strengthened, and the protection of those under investigation pending verification of their responsibilities is based on the principle of the presumption of innocence.

In the new version of the handbook “You are the Light of the World”, it is also specifically pointed out that the dioceses of the Latin and Eastern rites must set up “institutions and offices” to facilitate the public to report sexual assault, while the old version only mentioned “fixed mechanisms” in general. “. The new version also clearly stated that the bishops in the regions where the reported incidents occurred should be responsible for the investigation.

As clearly defined in the measures published in 2019, the attitude to be taken in reporting violations and ensuring that bishops, religious superiors and, now added, lay people in charge of international societies, are aware of their work, according to the universal It is a universal legal requirement to report violations of which they are aware.

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The document goes on and on not only about harassment and abuse against minors and vulnerable adults, but also about sexual abuse and harassment by those in positions of power. Responsibility is therefore also relevant in any case of nuns being abused by clergy, as well as in cases of harassment of seminarians or juniors.


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