APPENDIX 1:

Canonical Norms for Responding to Allegations

1. When an allegation is made

1.1 i In any situation in which a minor or vulnerable adult is in manifest danger, this must be reported immediately to the Police. In all Church-related situations, the details of any allegation38An allegation is a statement of a factual nature made by a named and identified person, of a kind which could support the formulation of a civil or canonical charge and/or conviction. must be noted by the person to whom it is disclosed. These details, which must include the identity of the accused, of the victim and of the complainant39The victim and complainant may be the same person, especially in the case of a vulnerable adult., including their contact details, must be recorded on the Allegation Record Form40Section C: Allegation Record Form. This information must then be transmitted immediately to the Bishop or Major Superior41The term Major Superior covers all forms of consecrated life, clerical, religious and lay. http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_norme_en.html., by means of the relevant Safeguarding Adviser, who must refer it to the statutory authorities without delay. He/she must then refer the matter as soon as possible to the Bishop or Major Superior. It must be made clear to the complainant that the relevant statutory authorities will be informed about the allegation. The referral to the authorities must be done even when the accused is deceased.

1.1 ii When the report to the authorities has been made, the Bishop or Major Superior, having opened by decree a preliminary investigation into the allegation42Canon 1719, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6V.HTM, must then immediately declare its suspension, without prejudice to any restrictions which may have hitherto been imposed on the accused under canon 1722, or which the accused may have imposed on himself, until the completion by the civil authorities of any investigation and/or criminal prosecution and trial.

1.2 i Canonical crimes or "delicts" can only be prosecuted if the penal law foresees them. The Bishop or Major Superior is legally obliged to decree the opening of a canonical investigation if an allegation of such a crime at least seems to be true43Canon 1717 §1, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6V.HTM, which means that the allegation is not manifestly false or frivolous.44The Office of Media Relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, http://www.usccb.org/news/2010/10-094.cfm. If the accused is a cleric, be it a diocesan cleric or one who is a member of a religious institute, and if the accusation concerns the sexual abuse of a minor or of a person who habitually lacks the use of reason45"Motu Proprio: Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, Norms on the More Serious Crimes" (= SST), article 6 §1, 10, http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_norme_en.html., the special law of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for such cases must be followed, together with the applicable sections of the Code of Canon Law.46The special law of the Congregation is SST, originally promulgated in 2001 and updated in 2010. SST also incorporates canons 1717-1719 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P6V.HTM. If the allegation concerns the sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult who does not habitually lack the use of reason, the ordinary penal process of the Code of Canon Law must be applied.

1.2 ii If a layperson is accused of the sexual abuse of a minor, of someone who habitually lacks the use of reason or of a vulnerable adult, the canonical penal law does not foresee canonical criminal prosecution.47The laity have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law - canon 221 §3, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PU.HTM. Since the norm of law does not provide penalties for the laity in the area of abuse, no canonical criminal prosecution can be made. In any case, all provisions of civil law must be scrupulously observed. However, the Bishop or Major Superior, after obtaining sufficient information and proofs, can lawfully restrict the rights of a layperson found guilty.48Canons 49-50, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P7.HTM He can also formally rebuke the layperson and impose a penance.49Canons 1339 §2 and 1340 §1, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4Z.HTM Mindful of the layperson's rights to a good name and to privacy50Canon 220, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PU.HTM, the Bishop or Major Superior in coming to his decision may consult duly qualified personnel such as the Diocesan Risk Assessment Management Team (DRAMT) and/or others. Just as the cleric and religious have the right to challenge any executive decision of the Bishop or Major Superior, or judicial sentence of a Church trial, so the layperson has the right to have recourse51Canons 1732-1739, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6Y.HTM or appeal52Canon 1727 §1; cf. canon 1728 §1, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6W.HTM against any decision taken against him/her.

1.3 i A complaint against a bishop or archbishop can be made in various ways. If the complaint is one of sexual abuse of a minor or of someone who habitually lacks the use of reason, the complainant may write directly to the Pope53Canons 1417 §1, 1444 §2, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P5B.HTM; http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_P5G.HTM who will then deal with the matter as he sees fit, most probably by enlisting the ministry of the CDF.54Canon 364,1, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P1B.HTM The complainant may report the allegation directly to the CDF. The allegation may be sent directly to the apostolic nuncio who will refer it to the CDF. The complainant may choose to write about the allegation to another bishop, who will also transmit the allegation to the CDF. If a complainant refers the matter to a priest, the priest must transmit it immediately to the CDF. To avoid scandal and to protect reputations, the fewer people involved in the transmission of the allegation the better, no matter who the accused is or what rank or dignity he/she holds. All who are involved must observe strict confidentiality.55SST actually calls for the observance of the pontifical secret in its article 30, http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_norme_en.html. Cf. Secretariat of State, Rescriptum ex Audientia, instructio Secreta continere, De secreto pontificio, 4 februarii 1974, in AAS 66 (1974) 89-92.

1.3 ii If the complainant has reported the mentioned allegation directly to the Pope, the CDF or to the apostolic nuncio, he/she must also assume responsibility to report it directly to the statutory authorities. If the allegation has instead been reported to a local bishop or priest, and the complainant has not reported it to the statutory authorities, the bishop or priest in question must do so without delay.

1.3 iii If the allegation against a bishop or archbishop is one of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult who does not lack the habitual use of reason, the allegation must be handled in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. Irrespective of whoever reports the allegation to whichever authority, its judgment is reserved to the Pope.56Canon 1405 §1, 30. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P5A.HTM

2. The complainant

2.1 All representatives of the Church must provide the complainant with reassurance, trust and confidentiality, except in cases where this is not legally appropriate or permissible.57Art 9(2) ECHR, the common law of confidentiality and the soon to be implemented General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). If the complainant is speaking on behalf of an alleged victim without the latter's knowledge, then it must be made clear to the complainant that the alleged victim will be duly informed that the allegation has been reported.

2.2 Whilst an allegation is being reported, investigated and decided, the alleged victim and/or complainant must be supported by the diocese or religious institute, including by being provided with a full explanation of the process as it unfolds, unless civil or canon law provides otherwise. Ongoing support must also be offered throughout for the family of the alleged victim.

2.3 Apart from any applicable rights guaranteed in civil law58Articles 8 & 9 of the EHCR, the status of a data subject under the Data Protection Act and the GDPR, the alleged victim has the right to moral and canonical support in any meetings with Church representatives. Moral support can be the presence of a family member or confidante. Canonical support consists of the ministry of an advocate who gives advice and protects the right of defence of the alleged victim during the preliminary investigation, and who remains available to explain matters if the case is taken further.

2.4 Apart from any applicable rights guaranteed in civil law59If a complainant is an employee of the Diocese, or Institute of Consecrated Life or Society of Apostolic Life, he/she will be protected by a variety of employment laws such as the Public Interest Disclosure legislation which finds expression through the Employment Relations Act, 1996., a complainant who is not the alleged victim has the right to moral support and canonical advice in the formulation and delivery of the allegation and in any later juncture in which the process suggests it is advisable.

3. The accused

3.1.i Like the alleged victim, the accused too must be accorded natural justice, civil justice and canonical justice60Financial assistance to ensure the effective delivery of justice will be provided on a case-by-case basis, subject to legal advice.. In particular61The list which follows is not exhaustive but focuses on core fundamental human rights contained in the Code of Canon Law, e.g. the right to due process. Evidently, a person's fundamental human rights, as guaranteed by international convention and national legislation, must also be protected and only restricted if and when the law itself requires it., the following must be strictly observed with regard to the accused person:

  • the right to be presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in accordance with the law62Cf. Canon 1526 §1, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P5U.HTM. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
  • the right to a good reputation, unless it must be legitimately called into question63Canon 220, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PU.HTM
  • the right to protect one's own privacy64Canon 220.
  • the right to vindicate and defend one's own rights in accordance with the law65Canon 221 §1.
  • the right, if called to trial, to be tried in accordance with the prescripts of the law applied with equity66Canon 221 §2.
  • the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except in accordance with the law67Canon 221 §3.
  • the right not to be put under oath or to confess to any crime68Canon 1728 §2.
  • and the right for the restriction of one's rights to be operated solely by legitimate means.69Canons 36 §1, 223 and 1722. Cf. also canon 1715 §1 which contains the principle that matters pertaining to the public good, e.g. a person's fundamental human and ecclesial rights, may not be subject to private agreements, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6U.HTM

3.1.ii After any initial pastoral communication with the accused, and before any formal meetings with Church authorities, all categories of accused must be informed by the Bishop or Major Superior of their right to civil and canonical legal support, as well as to moral support.

3.1.iii During the progress of the allegation, its investigation and the completion of any related process, the accused must be given a full explanation of what is happening, unless the Bishop or Major Superior is restricted from doing so by reason of a ruling from a statutory agency or civil court. Ongoing support for the accused, and for his/her family, must be available throughout the process.

3.2 A Church volunteer against whom an allegation is made must be invited to step down70Canon 223 §1: "In exercising their rights, the Christian faithful, both as individuals and gathered together in associations, must take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward others." http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PU.HTM during the investigation and adjudication of the case by the statutory authorities. Some written record, signed by the volunteer and by the Church representative, must be made of any voluntary self-restriction. If the volunteer refuses to step down willingly, suspension must be communicated in writing to the volunteer by the Bishop or Major Superior, or by his or her delegate, preferably in a personal meeting. As with all such executive decisions by authority, the person who may feel aggrieved has the right to administrative recourse in accordance with the law.71Canons 1732-1739.

3.3 If the allegation is made against a Church employee, then the person enjoys all the rights afforded by UK Employment Law72Employment Rights Act 1996. Statutory Agencies may be involved in such cases.. With the support of Human Resources personnel, the accused must be made aware of the allegation at the appropriate time. The terms of employment of the accused must be followed in relation to suspension from work or whatever action is deemed appropriate during the statutory authorities' investigation.

3.4 In the case of a professed religious brother or sister or of a non-clerical member of a religious institute, the Bishop or Major Superior must proceed in accordance with the Code of Canon Law and hence decree the opening of a preliminary investigation.73Canons 695 §2 and 1717-1719. Cf. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2C.HTM The person concerned will be invited to step back voluntarily from pastoral work for the duration of the investigation. This voluntary action can be strengthened by a promissory oath if the person so wishes.74Canons 223 §1 with 1199-1204. http://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/latin/documents/cic_liberIV_lt.html#pars2%20tit5 If the person refuses to step back, the Bishop or Major Superior may issue a decree of cautionary suspension.75Canon 1722. If the allegation is one of sexual abuse of a minor or of a vulnerable adult who habitually lacks the use of reason, the person concerned has the right to have recourse against this decree to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after having first asked the Bishop or Major Superior, but without success, to withdraw or amend the decree.76Canons 1734-1739. If the allegation is one of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult who does not habitually lack the use of reason, the person concerned has the right to have recourse against the decree to the Congregation for Institutes of Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, after having first asked the Bishop or Major Superior, but without success, to withdraw or amend the decree.

3.5 If the allegation is made against a seminarian, his bishop, in consultation with the seminary rector, must decide whether the seminarian may continue in the seminary, or is to be suspended or dismissed, depending on the nature of the allegation and all other pertinent circumstances. The rector must inform the seminarian that an allegation about him has been reported to the statutory authorities.

3.6.i If the allegation is against a cleric, the Bishop or Major Superior must personally inform him that an allegation against him has been reported to the statutory authorities, where this is legally permissible and appropriate.

3.6.ii Having decreed the opening of the preliminary investigation, the Bishop or Major Superior is not obliged to, but may, restrict by decree the exercise of the rights of the accused cleric. He may however do so solely for the reasons prescribed in canon 1722, namely: 1) to prevent scandal; 2) to protect the freedom of witnesses; and 3) to guard the course of justice. The rights whose exercise may be restricted by the Bishop or Major Superior are solely those associated with the measures prescribed in canon 1722, namely: 1) exclusion from the exercise of the sacred ministry; 2) exclusion from an ecclesiastical office or function; 3) the order to, or prohibition from, residing in a given place or territory; and 4) the prohibition from public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist. The Bishop or Major Superior may impose one, more or all of these measures. Yet he must review and modify his decree if and when the cause or causes giving rise to one, more or all of the restrictive measures has or have ceased. The Bishop or Major Superior must hear the opinion of the Promoter of Justice before coming to his decision.

3.6.iii As an alternative to the canon 1722 decree, the Bishop or Major Superior may first invite the accused voluntarily to accept the restrictive measures which would otherwise be imposed on him. Indeed, the Bishop or Major Superior, or the accused himself, may also propose further restrictive measures which go beyond those contained canon 1722, provided such further measures are warranted by the situation and are not unduly burdensome on the accused or on anyone else. This voluntary restriction of rights would be assumed in order to "take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and [the accused's] own duties towards others"77Canon 223 §1. arising from the new situation born from the allegation. The Bishop or Major Superior could also, if the circumstances suggest it, propose to the cleric that he strengthen and solemnize his voluntary acceptance by taking a promissory oath.78Canon 1201 §1 The conditions under which the oath may be taken79Can. 1199 §1: "An oath, that is, the invocation of the divine name in witness to the truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice. §2. An oath which the canons require or permit cannot be taken validly through a proxy." Can. 1200 §1: "A person who freely swears to do something is bound by a special obligation of religion to fulfill what he or she affirmed by oath." and under which it ceases must be clearly explained to the cleric who, of course, has the right to canonical advice.80Can. 1202: "The obligation arising from a promissory oath ceases: 1. if it is remitted by the person for whose benefit the oath was made; 2. if the matter sworn to is substantially changed or if, after the circumstances have changed, it becomes either evil or entirely indifferent or, finally, impedes a greater good; 3. if the purpose or a condition under which the oath may have been taken ceases; 4. by dispensation or commutation, according to the norm of can. 1203." Canon 1203: "Those who can suspend, dispense, or commute a vow have the same power in the same manner over a promissory oath; but if the dispensation from the oath tends to the disadvantage of others who refuse to remit the obligation of the oath, only the Apostolic See can dispense the oath."

3.6.iv At all times, the cleric should be kept updated as to what progress is being made, as far as possible.

4. On the completion of the process by the statutory authorities

4.1 The statutory authorities may or may not proceed to a criminal trial in the civil forum. In the canonical forum, any process can only be resumed once a trial and any appeals have been exhausted or once it becomes clear that the authorities have decided to take no further action unless new elements of judgement emerge. As already indicated,812.2, 2.23, 2.4, 3.1 ii, 3.1 iii. all those involved in the canonical process must be offered support.

4.2 When a civil trial has been pursued and ends in a criminal conviction incompatible with continued ministry in the Church:

  • A volunteer will be barred permanently from any role in the life of Church which involves contact with either minors or vulnerable adults or both, depending on the nature of the offence. The volunteer retains the right to have recourse in accordance with the law against any such decision.82Canons 1732-1739.
  • If not already dismissed under the terms of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee will be subject to a disciplinary process according to civil law and an appropriate decision will then be made. In the matter of contracts, canon law observes with the same effects the provisions of local civil law.83Canon 1290: "The general and particular provisions which the civil law in a territory has established for contracts and their disposition are to be observed with the same effects in canon law insofar as the matters are subject to the power of governance of the Church unless the provisions are contrary to divine law or canon law provides otherwise, and without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1547", Canon 1547: "Proof by means of witnesses is allowed under the direction of the judge in cases of any kind", http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P5Z.HTM.
  • A seminarian will be dismissed from seminary. The reason for the dismissal from seminary will be noted in the seminarian’s file. If there is any subsequent attempt by the individual concerned to enter seminary or a religious institute, the details of the conviction will be shared with the appropriate ecclesiastical authority, as civil and canon law permit or require. The seminarian retains the right to have recourse in accordance with the law against any such decision.84Canons 1732-1739.
  • In the case of a professed religious or member of a religious institute, the canonical process85Cf. 3.4 above. that was suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation into the allegation made by the statutory authorities, will now resume.
  • In the case of a cleric, the canonical process86Cf. 3.6 ii & iii above. that was suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation into the allegation made by the statutory authorities, will now likewise resume. If the crime prosecuted civilly involved the sexual abuse of a minor or of a vulnerable adult who lacked the habitual use of reason, the transmission to the CDF of the findings of the preliminary investigation will include the full details of the civil criminal trial, as permitted or required by civil law.

4.3 If the civil process undertaken by the statutory authorities does not lead to a criminal conviction, or if the authorities do not proceed to a criminal trial, then the canonical process must resume.

  • A volunteer or employee who has not been civilly convicted but "upon whom … grave suspicion of having committed a [crime] has fallen" or "whose behaviour causes scandal or a grave disturbance of order"87Canon 1339 §§1-2, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4Z.HTM, will be referred by the Bishop or Major Superior to the competent DRAMT or its equivalent.
  • The decision about the case, then to be taken by the Bishop or Major Superior, must always be preceded by the gathering and assessing of evidence, by hearing the DRAMT or its equivalent, and by hearing the volunteer or employee. The decision must be issued by decree in accordance with canons 48-58. The person affected must be informed at the moment of the execution of the decree that he/she has the right to have recourse against it in accordance with canons 1734-1739. Canonical advice must be provided to that end.
  • In the case of a non-clerical religious or member of a religious institute, the canonical process is resumed as already indicated.88Cf. 4.2, bullet point 4.

4.4 In the case of a cleric, the canonical process is also resumed, as already indicated.89Cf. 4.2. bullet point 5.

4.4.i The Bishop or Major Superior must assess whether the facts discovered appear to correspond to a crime against the sixth commandment with a minor (under eighteen years of age) or with a vulnerable adult who habitually lacks the use of reason.90SST, article 6. "If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied, the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defence, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims."91Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Circular Letter to Assist Episcopal Conferences in Developing Guidelines for Dealing with Cases of Sexual Abuses of Minors Perpetrated by Clerics", Section II, 3 May 2011, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html In referring the case to the CDF, the Bishop or Major Superior may include a written opinion on how the case might proceed.

4.4.ii "Unless there are serious contrary indications, before a case is referred to the CDF, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation which has been made and given the opportunity to respond to it. The prudence of the bishop will determine what information will be communicated to the accused in the course of the preliminary investigation."92Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Circular Letter to Assist Episcopal Conferences in Developing Guidelines for Dealing with Cases of Sexual Abuses of Minors Perpetrated by Clerics", Section II, 3 May 2011.

4.4.iii The CDF studies the evidence submitted by the Bishop or Major Superior and, if no further information is requested in order to arrive at an informed decision, the Congregation proceeds to a very important first decision, namely, the method for resolving the case. In whichever method is chosen, the accused cleric always has an advocate to protect and promote his right of defence (the right to make his case, the right to see the evidence, the right to appeal unless the decision is taken by the Pope). The most serious penalty imposed on a cleric is dismissal from the priestly ministry, but lesser penalties may also be handed down:

  • The CDF may decide that the facts of the case do not require any further penal action. In this case, it may propose some other provisions for the sake of the common good of the Church, including the good of the denounced cleric.93Canon 1718 §1, nn.1-2. Against such provisions, recourse cannot be made to the CDF.
  • The CDF may decide to present the case directly to the Holy Father for the immediate dismissal of the cleric from the clerical state.94SST, article 21 §2, 2. This is reserved for particularly grave cases in which the guilt of the cleric is beyond doubt and well documented. There is no appeal or recourse against the decision of the Holy Father.
  • The CDF may decide to authorise a penal extrajudicial procedure according to canon 1720 of the Code of Canon Law.95SST, article 21 §2, 1. If the Bishop or Major Superior is of the opinion that the case merits the imposition of the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, he must refer his opinion to the CDF which will, in turn, decide to impose the penalty or not. Against such a decision recourse may be made to the CDF.
  • The CDF may decide to authorize the Bishop or Major Superior to conduct a penal judicial process in the diocese or other suitable tribunal.96The norms which determine the unfolding of the trial are contained in the Code of Canon Law: canons 1400-1627; 1721-1728; and also by SST, article 20, 1. Any appeal against its decision will be reserved to the tribunal of the CDF.97Mgr. Charles Scicluna, Procedures and Praxis of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding Graviora Delicta, http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_mons-scicluna-graviora-delicta_en.html. The norms which determine the unfolding of the trial at the CDF is explained in SST, articles 21-31, http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_norme_en.html

4.5.i The Bishop or Major Superior may however decide that the allegation against the cleric does not come under the crimes prescribed in SST, article 6. In this situation, the case is not sent to the CDF. The Bishop or Major Superior himself must then decide: 1) whether a regular canonical penal process can be initiated for another type of crime; 2) whether fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice and reform the offender; 3) whether, in the event that the penal process route is chosen, it must be by judicial trial or extrajudicial decree; 4) whether the preliminary investigation must be closed because there is no case to answer; or 5) whether some other extrajudicial procedure must be implemented.98The first three options are found in canon 1718 §1 with canon 1341; the fourth, in canon 1719; the fifth option could encompass the procedure to remove a parish priest (cc. 1740-1747), to declare a priest irregular for the exercise of holy orders (canon 1044 §1), to prohibit a priest by penal precept (canon 1319) from a certain place or places, from engaging in certain otherwise legitimate activities, etc. Whichever option the Bishop or Major Superior chooses, the corresponding procedure in canon law will be implemented.

4.5.ii If the Bishop or Major Superior decides to close the case by decree, then by the law itself, any canon 1722 decree ceases and any self-imposed restrictions by the cleric in the exercise of his rights, whether strengthened by a promissory oath or not, also ceases. The cleric has the right by the law itself immediately to resume his ecclesiastical office unless the Bishop or Major Superior has objective and legitimate cause to delay the resumption or offers the cleric a different office which he accepts. Advised by the DRAMT or its equivalent, the Bishop or Major Superior, with the consent of the cleric, may invite him to accept some form of supervision and assistance in the return to ministry, especially if there remains "grave suspicion [that the cleric has] committed a [crime]" or if his "behaviour causes scandal or a grave disturbance of order."99Canon 1339 §§1-2, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4Z.HTM The cleric has the right to ask for or to refuse such help, always with the assistance of a canonical adviser.

5. On the completion of the Church’s process

5.1 The outcome of any preliminary investigation which closes the case, of any tribunal definitive sentence or the decree of the Bishop or Major Superior issued after due consultation with his/her DRAMT or equivalent, must be communicated to the accused as soon as possible. The procedures for appeal or recourse, where these are possible, are to be outlined in the communication of the outcome.

5.2 Once all appeals and recourses have been exhausted, the final result of the process must be made known appropriately to the original complainant and, if he/she was not the complainant, the victim/survivor (if the decision against the cleric was guilty) or alleged victim (if the cleric was exonerated). For Data Protection reasons, as well as out of observance of the canonical100Canon 1455. or pontifical secret101SST, article 30., it is necessary to distinguish between the complainant and the (alleged) victim when it comes to giving them sight of the judicial sentence or decrees since the law itself may limit access to these documents only to the (alleged) victim and his/her canonical advocate.

5.3 With dutiful respect for the demands of all applicable civil and canon laws, and when all rights of recourse or appeal have been exhausted, the definitive outcome of a case is to be made public to the faithful and to the wider community.

5.4 The complainant, the (alleged) victim or the accused, may request a review of how the case was handled by the diocese or religious institute. This is not a further appeal or recourse concerning the merits of the decisions and outcomes, but an administrative review of procedural compliance by those with responsibility towards the people concerned.

5.5 At the time of the completion of the process by the Church, support is to be offered to the complainant/survivor and the accused person. The families of both must also be offered support. There must be an ongoing commitment of support by the diocese or religious institute to all parties involved for as long as it is required.

5.6 When the decision is in favour of an accused person they shall return to their role within the life of the Church, without prejudice to the precautionary observations and other considerations already mentioned above.102Cf. 4.5 ii.

5.7 Any person who has been falsely accused has the right in canon law to bring an action to pursue damages103Canons 1729-1731. and also has the right/duty to report to the Bishop or Major Superior an allegation of the crime of defamation or calumny. This is turn may lead to the opening of a preliminary investigation into that alleged crime.104Canons 1717 §1 and 1390-1391.

6. Supporting Parishes

6.1 When an accusation is made against a cleric who is in active ministry, the effects on his community of the allegation and/or of any cautionary disciplinary measures, be they self-imposed or enjoined by decree, must be considered and suitably addressed within the bounds of Data Protection and canonical reserve. The probability of these effects must also inform the Bishop’s or Major Superior’s decision in seeking the restriction of the cleric’s rights, since the rights of the community he serves may also be negatively affected.105Canon 50.

6.2 The Bishop or Major Superior must address the community either personally or by means of a statement read by his delegate. This statement must explain succinctly the process by which the accusation against the cleric is being handled and what the next step in that process will be. As the process unfolds, whatever information can be given to the community must be promptly relayed to it, canon and civil law permitting. At the conclusion of the process, any decision and subsequent action affecting the community must be promptly and fully explained to it by the diocesan Bishop or Major Superior or his delegate.

6.3 It is a matter of natural and canonical justice that “no one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.”106Canon 220. Statements must therefore be prepared with great prudence so as not to be prejudicial to anyone involved. No reference to the ongoing process must be made by anyone, without the explicit permission of the Bishop or Major Superior who must himself or herself remain within the confines of the law.

6.4 If a cleric is suspended in accordance with the law as a precautionary measure, or if he has voluntarily restricted the exercise of his rights, an administrator of proven pastoral sensitivity is to be appointed in the interim. Where possible, the administrator is to be resident in the parish concerned.

7. Statements to the Media

7.1 In any statement or comment, the good name of those involved must always be protected.107Cf. 6.3. The integrity of any legal process must not be undermined by speculation or conjecture, so that all involved (the complainant, any alleged victim or any accused person) can have faith in a just outcome. Statements must be carefully crafted to avoid generalisations or referring to matters which are not pertinent to the case in hand. Care must be taken to measure the impact that a statement might have upon the right of the accused to a fair trial. Civil law considerations may determine when, how and in what form any public statement may be made.

7.2 At the beginning of any legal process, the statement made by the Bishop or Major Superior to a given community must be used as the basis for any further declaration by anyone else to the Media. The statement must be written by the relevant diocese or religious institute with advice from the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO). Parish social media, or other community social media, must be prudently managed at all times to protect the integrity of any legal process underway and the reputation and privacy of all concerned.108Canon 1717 §2; 220.

7.3. Comment by the SCMO, or by representatives of a diocese or religious institute, or any statements following on from that comment, must adhere to agreed protocols. No-one holding any Church office is to give comment to the media without the prior permission of the Bishop or Major Superior. These precautions will allow the faithful to receive, in the correct way and at the correct time, whatever information can be legally made available to them.