vrijdag, april 22, 2016

Brothers, sisters, fathers: Religious orders key to child protection

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a continuing effort to protect children, the Catholic Church's focus is now turning to religious orders of men and women.
Much of the attention had been on how dioceses and national bishops' conferences have been responding to victims and protecting children.
But, religious orders and congregations are sometimes left out of that picture, even though they, too, have a duty to make sure every person in their care is safe. Also, the majority of the more than 300,000 Catholic schools and orphanages around the world are run by religious brothers and sisters whose charisms are to promote human dignity and Gospel values.
Pope Francis last year authorized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate and judge claims of "abuse of office" by bishops who allegedly failed to protect minors and vulnerable adults from sex abuse. But that form of censure "wasn't extended to superior generals, and it should be," said Father John Fogarty, superior general of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
Canon Law and the complementary Vatican norms regarding this field "refer only to clergy" -- bishops, priests and deacons -- said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
While the Vatican's doctrinal congregation asked the bishops' conferences to develop guidelines and procedures on how they are adhered to by local bishops, he said religious brothers, religious seminarians before ordination or religious sisters are in a league of their own, and the canonical practice is different.
Each religious order or congregation establishes its own policies, he said. And while some may have a set of guidelines for their whole congregation, in others each province or region is in charge of setting up safeguarding guidelines, Father Zollner told Catholic News Service.

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