Archbishop Scicluna said that, beyond the screening of future priests, there must also be “an empowerment to the community to disclose abuse when it happens and also an empowerment of the community so that together we ascertain and we guarantee that the Church is a safe place for everybody, including minors.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s former prosecutor also noted that in May 2001 the congregation asked bishops’ conferences around the world to prepare guidelines to counter abuse.
“The circular letter,” Archbishop Scicluna said, “gave important indications, as it talked about formation of future priests, but also talked about the protection of the community; and it also mentioned cooperation with civil authorities.”
The letter stated that “sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict, but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless, it is important to cooperate with such authorities within their responsibilities.”
Archbishop Scicluna commented that these things “need to be implemented and constantly put in the local Church’s agenda.”
He also said that most bishops’ conferences have issued guidelines following the CDF’s advice and that all existing guidelines have been now screened by the Vatican.
However, Archbishop Scicluna added, “Documents are not enough. We need to sensitize whole communities, because this sad phenomenon cannot be solved with hierarchical decisions, but must involve everyone.”
Speaking about the meeting convoked by Pope Francis for February 2019, Archbishop Scicluna said that the meeting comes from a decision of the council of cardinals, but it is also “a response to people’s expectation that we move from documents to actions.”