In a letter dated February 2, 2015 and addressed to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Pope Francis reaffirms the need for the Church at all levels “to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy.” In his letter, the Holy Father recalls the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, formally established in March 2014, as well as the Circular Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith published on May 3, 2011. “This document was issued to assist Episcopal Conferences in drawing up guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics,” the Pope notes.
“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children,” Pope Francis says in his letter. “They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home. Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.”
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is currently updating again its resources for the protection of minors and other vulnerable persons. The CCCB was the first Episcopal Conference in the world to provide a series of recommendations to help dioceses respond more effectively to complaints and cases of sexual abuse. A number of the recommendations in the 1992 resource, From Pain to Hope, were later revised in 2007 as Orientations to assist dioceses in updating protocols for the prevention of the sexual abuse of minors and for the pastoral response to complaints regarding abuse.