Purging silence: Vatican expands abuse prevention to lay movements

Light of truth

Millions of Catholics live their faith through their association with lay movements and Catholic groups, but some also have lost their faith when they were sexually abused in those groups and felt they had nowhere to turn. While much of the Church’s recent focus has been on clerical sexual abuse and the accountability of diocesan bishops, the Vatican is making child protection a priority for new movements and lay associations, too.

The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life brought together close to 100 representatives of Catholic associations and movements for a meeting on June 13 on abuse prevention and procedures for reporting and handling allegations.

Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Vatican office, told the representatives that by the end of December every movement and association in the Church must turn in formal guidelines and protocols for reporting and preventing cases of abuse.

Catholic movements and associations for laypeople, which are given official recognition through the cardinal’s office, were told in May 2018 to draft abuse guidelines. Too many of the groups either did not respond or submitted inadequate protocols, he said.

Farrell said some Catholics in some parts of the world think holding another meeting about the abuse crisis shows that the scandal has become “a fixation,” “an unhealthy obsession” or “a pesky exaggeration.”

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