Bishop Scicluna begs for forgiveness and announces new policy on sexual abuse

Church launches new policy and procedures in cases of sexual abuse

Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna
Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna

Bishop Charles Scicluna has begged for forgiveness and promised that cases of sexual abuse by clergy members will be they will be investigated and judged within the shortest time possible.

While announcing new procedures, Scicluna told the faithful “I need the cooperation of each and every one of you, in order that abuses may be reported and stopped, and in order that any dangerous situations may be detected and averted.”

In his pastoral message to mark advent, the Apostolic Administrator of Malta said “several people have expressed their heartache when they see signs of frailty in priests. Their heartache is also the heartache of the Church.”

He also announced that the Church has approved a new policy on how it should deal with cases of sexual abuse involving its members.

“In all humility, I beg forgiveness for all those things which could have wounded some of our brothers and sisters, and I commit myself to do my part in order that, together with the other Bishops and Religious Superiors, we may uphold our duty to safeguard our flock to the best of our abilities, and as far as we are able to.”

The publication of the new policy and procedures comes in the wake of recent allegations of sexual abuse by one of its clergy members which has been under investigation by the Church’s response team for over eight years.

“You are able to acknowledge that we priests are people made up of flesh and blood who, at times, falter in the course of our pilgrimage. Our sins are considered to be grave when they are to the detriment of others. Our sins cause great suffering: they are a humiliation to us all and they confound many of you,” Scicluna said.

While stressing that the Church is not only committed to fighting the phenomenon of sexual abuse of the innocent, but also to prevent similar situations from occurring, Scicluna said “the new procedures consolidate the Church’s commitment to offer any psychological and spiritual assistance which the victims may require.”

In a statement issued today, the Church said that the new policy is aimed at protecting vulnerable people, including minors.

“The emphasis is on education and prevention to ensure that abuse does not take place and if they do happen, investigations should be concluded swiftly, in respect of the laws of the country and the Church.”

The statement added that the revision of the procedures was carried out upon the request of the Bishops and “religious superiors.”

The reform includes the creation of a Safeguarding Commission made up of professionals which will have the “duty to express its valuation of each case’s risks.”

Moreover, the Church said that the new structure will ensure that investigators gather all related information in the shortest time possible in order to determine whether sexual abuse by clergy or lay members took place.

The Delegate who will lead the commission will also have the responsibility to offer support to parishes, schools and catechism centres in their efforts to safeguard vulnerable people.

The members on the Safeguarding Commission will announced in January.