Ask Pope Francis to end abuse of women and children by Catholic clergy in less-developed countries

We plan to present this Petition to Pope Francis when he visits New York in September 2015.

A quote from Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, "Clergy sexual abuse is a global problemIt is imperative that individual nations assume responsibility for the welfare of their young citizens and take steps to protect their youth from this type of abuse."

Sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy in the United States has declined largely due to changes in legislation and plaintiff lawsuits. Most American states have enacted legislation to not only prosecute abusive clergy, but also their supervisors for failure to report subordinates who violate the law. This is not true in less–developed countries. In places, such as Uganda in Africa and the Philippines in the Far East, women and children continue to be sexually molested by Catholic priests and associated clergy. We ask Pope Frances to issue a motu propio (a papal executive order) requiring priests, bishops and other Catholic clergy to report to the civil authorities any cleric or Catholic personnel involved in sexual abuse of women and children. Further we ask that the Pope rescind the papal motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, issued by Pope Benedict XVI in 2001, and end tribunals for abusive clergy as well as end the insistence on secrecy. Instead offenders are to be turned over to the civil authorities.

We ask Pope Francis to require that all seminarians, as well as existing clergy, take and pledge to the following oath, “I will not abuse women and children, intimidate them or their families, cover-up for fellow clergy or subordinates, nor tolerate among us those who do so." We ask Pope Francis to initiate these practices and require that Catholic personnel take this pledge to provide for better protection of women and children in places where civil law either is weak or enforcement of the civil law is so weak that Catholic clergy can, in essence, abuse without fear of retribution. The procedure under the Code of Canon Law, to initiate tribunals to investigate abusive clergy, is no more than a fox watching a chicken coop. Therefore we ask that all abusive clergy be reported to civil authorities to be prosecuted under existing laws and that the Pope requires all bishops and cardinals to insist to the civil authorities that abusers be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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