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National Center for Victims of Crime Statement on the Creation of Vatican Sex Abuse Tribunal


June 11, 2015
Contact: Tara Ballesteros  tballesteros@ncvc.org – 202-467-8743

Washington, DC The National Center for Victims of Crime views the creation of a tribunal to address bishop negligence in cases of child sexual abuse as an initial step towards transparency. While this unprecedented tribunal will bring new scrutiny to bishops—who until now could only be disciplined by the Pope—if the Vatican is genuinely concerned about victims and protecting children, they will support the efforts of civil authorities to reform secular laws to hold accountable those responsible as well as those that hide the abuse. The recent indictment of the Archdiocese of St. Paul was based on the information contained in over 700,000 pages of documents released under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which was passed in 2013 despite intense opposition from the Church.

The action taken yesterday by the Pope appears promising. However, much remains to be seen as the Vatican is still controlling the dialogue and the punishment of those guilty of sexual abuse. From the victim's perspective there have been numerous panels and promises that have resulted in very little positive change. The Church has yet to prove that they have the ability to effectively police themselves.

"While we are hopeful that under the new leadership of Pope Francis this tribunal will be different than all the others, we urge the Vatican to work in collaboration with victim groups instead of in opposition as they have in the past. A first and more meaningful step is to publically express their unequivocal support for statute of limitations reform to truly provide justice and healing to those abused by members of the Catholic clergy," commented Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. 


The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.