Three initiatives have been rolled out following the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting, held in the Vatican from Feb 21-24.

The initiatives – centred around the protection of children and to combat abuse – were announced by Father Federico Lombardi, Moderator of the meeting, at a press briefing.
They are:

- The imminent publication of a Motu proprio (an official order issued by the Holy Father) by the Pope, providing rules and regulations to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults within Vatican City State.

- The distribution of a vademecum (handbook) to Bishops around the world, explaining their juridical and pastoral duties and responsibilities with regard to protecting children.

- The creation of an operative “task force”, comprising competent experts, to assist those Bishops’ Conferences that may lack the necessary resources or expertise to confront the issue of safeguarding minors, and deal with abuse.

A fourth response which emerged from the meeting is the fact that the Organising Committee of the meeting will meet with heads of Vatican Curia departments to discuss follow-up and reflect on what other actions to subsequently take, according to Vatican News.

In the Archdiocese of Singapore, there is an exisiting document in place that promotes a safe environment, including the implementation of a protocol to receive any complaint of sexual abuse or harassment of a minor or young person.

In line with this document from the Archdiocese, the Archdiocese Professional Standards Office (PSO) has in place certain instructions and best practices for parishes to adhere to.

The PSO was set up in 2011 after studying the processes in Australia. It was set up to deal with sexual abuse against children and young people.

The PSO has a second duty of handling any complaints of sexual abuse or harassment of a child or young person. The document from the Archdiocese sets out the procedures to ensure a just treatment of all complaints in a transparent and juridical manner restoring communion for all parties concerned. Allegations may be against priests, Religious, employees or volunteers in the Archdiocese.

In the interest of transparency and independence, Archbishop William Goh has appointed a non-cleric to head the PSO.

The Head will be assisted by a panel of professionals with the appropriate experience. The current document on the subject is now being reviewed and updated.

More details about the procedure of lodging a complaint can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PSOprocedure.

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