Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei

PRELATURE SAFEGUARDING POLICY

issued by the Prelate of Opus Deito Safeguard Minors and Vulnerable Persons from abuse or misconductin activities of the Prelature

Version 1 – 22 February 2020

English translation, Region of North-West Europe – 12th September 2022

Abbreviations

PREAMBLE

Since 2013, the Vicars of the various Regions of the Prelature have issued Safeguarding Policies for the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of minors, made against faithful of the Prelature of Opus Dei, in accordance with the guidelines of the Congregation (now, Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith (hereinafter “DDF”) contained in the Letter of 3 May 2011, the indications of the various Episcopal Conferences and the laws of each State.

The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, has recently issued the Motu Proprio On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons, of 26 March 2019, together with Law No. CCXCVII of Vatican City State, On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons, of 26 March 2019 and the Directives for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons for the Vicariate of Vatican City, of 26 March 2019, and the Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi of 7 May 2019 (hereinafter “VELM”), in order to further strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework of the Church and to prevent and combat abuses against children and vulnerable persons.

Having regard to the content of these measures and with full commitment to their high purpose, I address to all the faithful of the Prelature the following directives, in which the indications given by the Roman Pontiff are gathered together and adapted to the specific pastoral activities of the Prelature.

TITLE I – GENERAL PRINCIPLES

Art. 1       

The measures and procedures in this Prelature Safeguarding Policy (hereinafter “PSP”) have as their objective to foster and maintain an ethos that is respectful of and sensitive to the rights and needs of minors and vulnerable persons, and excludes the risk of exploitation, sexual abuse or ill-treatment occurring in the course of activities carried out under the auspices of the Prelature.

Art. 2      

Accordingly, these directives are addressed not only to all the faithful of the Prelature, but also to those who in one way or another collaborate in their initiatives of apostolic and Christian formation.

Art. 3      

In this Policy, unless the context excludes it, vulnerable persons are to be taken as equivalent to minors, even if they are not expressly mentioned.

a)    “Minor” means any person under the age of eighteen years. A person with an habitually imperfect use of reason is equivalent to a minor (cf. Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, – as revised – Article 6, 1°).

b)    “Vulnerable person” means, for the purposes of these directives, any adult in a state of infirmity, physical or psychological deficiency or deprivation of personal liberty, which in fact limits his or her ability, albeit occasionally, to understand or want or otherwise resist an offence (cf. VELM Art.1 §2 a-b).

Art. 4       

The following objectives and principles inform every standard and procedure aimed at preventing and combating abuses against minors and vulnerable persons in activities under the auspices of the Prelature:

a)    Objectives:

b)    General principles of response:  

Art. 5       

The authorities of the Prelature commit themselves to treating those affected and their families with dignity and respect. In particular, they will offer:

a)    to welcome, listen to and accompany them, using specialist services where appropriate,

b)    to provide spiritual care,

c)    to provide medical, therapeutic and psychological care, as the case may require.

Art. 6      

The good name, privacy and confidentiality of the personal data of those involved must be protected.

TITLE II – SAFEGUARDING STANDARDS

Art. 7      

Apostolic initiatives which receive pastoral support from the Prelature (cf. Statuta, No. 121) and in which minors or vulnerable persons take part, should have in place adequate safeguarding policies and standards of good practice.

Art. 8       

In accordance with VELM Art.2, the Office of Coordinator for the safeguarding of minors has been established in the Prelature, with the following functions and obligations:

    To receive every kind of complaint or report – whether directly from the person affected or from third parties – regarding conduct to which this Policy applies. Receipt of every such report will be acknowledged to the complainant and – if different from the complainant – also to the offended person.

    To gather whatever data may be necessary for the purpose of identifying the person accused and the possible victims, as well as any subsequent data relating to the facts asserted and the persons affected.

    To inform the complainant and, where appropriate, the offended person about the procedural steps, whether in canon or in civil law.

    To provide initial assistance to victims, with attentive personal support.

    In considering an oral complaint, to prepare an authenticated statement – which should be signed by the complainant – noting everything that has been affirmed and also the steps that have been taken, for which purpose the presence of a canonical notary will be required.   

    To send to the Regional Vicar, with speed and discretion, the authenticated statement of the complaint and of the steps taken, making a written note of having sent it and of the date of same, and notifying the complainant to this effect.

    To ensure the security, integrity and confidentiality of information in accordance with  Can. 1455 §3 CIC.

    To inform the Regional Vicar periodically of the work carried out.       

Art. 9      

Each Regional Vicar shall designate, within the ambit of his region, a Coordinator of safeguarding of minors and vulnerable persons (hereinafter, “Safeguarding Coordinator”), at least one Deputy Coordinator, who will assist the Coordinator in the implementation of these directives and substitute for the Coordinator when necessary, and an Advisory Committee composed of at least five persons. The Safeguarding Coordinator will arrange training activities in safeguarding practice for those involved with minors and vulnerable persons. He or she will also be especially responsible for welcoming and accompanying persons who have suffered exploitation, sexual abuse or ill-treatment, as well as their families.

Art. 10   

Before designating persons who will work with minors or vulnerable persons in apostolic initiatives which receive pastoral support from the Prelature, even for an occasional involvement:

a)    the suitability of the candidates to interact with such persons should be ascertained through appropriate inquiry and by establishing, in accordance with current legislation, the absence of a criminal record,

b)    the candidates are to be provided with adequate training, using the most appropriate means, to help them to understand, identify and prevent risks of sexual exploitation and abuse.

TITLE III – CODE OF BEHAVIOUR

Art. 11   

In apostolic initiatives that include minors, priority should be given to safeguarding them. Accordingly, in the course of such activities, the faithful of the Prelature and their collaborators must:

Art. 12   

Faithful of the Prelature – and those admitted as collaborators in apostolic initiatives of the Prelature in which minors or vulnerable adults take part – are strictly forbidden:

Art. 13   

Any inappropriate or bullying behaviour that might take place between persons covered by this Policy – even if it does not have particularly serious characteristics – should be acted on promptly, in a measured way, and with prudence and refinement, immediately informing the parents or guardians concerned.

Art. 14   

The written consent of parents or guardians is indispensable for the participation of minors or vulnerable adults in activities which come within the pastoral responsibility of the Prelature. Parents or guardians must receive information about the proposed activity, as well as the names and contact details of those responsible. Parental consent forms which contain confidential details are to be kept on file with appropriate safeguards.

TITLE IV – RECEPTION OF COMPLAINTS

Art. 15   

Those who disclose that they have suffered abuses covered by this Policy, as well as their families, have the right to be welcomed, listened to and supported. The Regional Vicar, directly or through the Safeguarding Coordinator, will 

The Regional Vicar may entrust the spiritual accompaniment of offended persons and their families to a qualified priest.

Art. 16   

Medical, psychological and social support, as appropriate, will also be made available to such persons, as well as information of a legal nature.

Art. 17   

Without prejudice to the sacramental seal, any faithful of the Prelature or collaborator who may have information or a grounded suspicion that a minor or vulnerable person may be suffering any of the abuses addressed in this Policy, shall inform the Regional Vicar, directly or through the Safeguarding Coordinator.

Art. 18   

When the complaints or reports are not manifestly unfounded, the Regional Vicar shall remove the person presumed to have perpetrated the acts from involvement in the apostolic activities of the Prelature for the duration of the proceedings in the case, the outcome of which will determine his or her final situation vis-à-vis the Prelature.

Art. 19    

The civil authorities must be informed of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, in accordance with the current civil and canonical legislation, unless it is manifestly unfounded, would involve a violation of the sacramental seal or of the confidentiality of spiritual guidance, or in the other circumstances foreseen in Can. 1548 §2  CIC.

TITLE V – PROCESSING OF COMPLAINTS

Art. 20    

In cases within his competence and without prejudicing any investigation underway in a civil process, the Regional Vicar shall entrust a preliminary investigation in accordance with Can. 1717 CIC with the greatest diligence, to the Promoter of Justice of his Region or to a delegate (hereinafter, “the Investigator”), or if this is not possible, he shall carry it out personally. 

Art. 21   

During the preliminary investigation, among other things that might be relevant, as much as possible should be ascertained about the conduct which is being investigated and its circumstances, the personal details and ages of the persons concerned, the harm caused and the possible involvement of the sacramental forum. Documents, evidence and testimonies may be gathered from the various contexts and environments in which the person under investigation would have acted. The Investigator may also make use of statements, testimonies, documents and reports of experts collected in the civil sphere, to which they may have access, as well as any judgement or decision of the courts of the State concerning the matters under investigation.

Art. 22    

In the course of the preliminary investigation, the following objectives shall be pursued:

a)    to try to achieve the spiritual and psychological recovery of each person involved,

b)    to obtain, without delay and in whatever manner may be appropriate to the case, the testimony of the injured party,

c)    to inform the victim or his or her representatives as to the rights of the injured party and how to enforce them, including the possibility of presenting evidence and requesting to be heard, directly or through an intermediary,

d)    to inform the same persons, if they so request, of the outcome of the investigation and of the course of subsequent events in the process,

e)    to advise the injured person to make use of the services of civil and canonical advisers,

f)     to safeguard the injured person and his or her family from any intimidation or retaliation,

g)    to protect the good name, privacy, and confidentiality of personal data of the parties involved.

Art. 23   

The presumption of innocence must always be guaranteed and calling into question the good name of the person under investigation (hereinafter, “the respondent”) is to be avoided. Unless there are serious reasons to the contrary, the respondent must be promptly informed of the opening of the investigation and of what has occasioned it. The respondent should be encouraged to make use of the services of civil and canonical advisors and should also be offered spiritual and psychological support.

Art. 24   

Where there is reason to believe that the offences might be repeated, the appropriate precautionary measures should be taken without delay, in accordance with the law.

Art. 25   

If the preliminary investigation establishes at least the plausibility of the notitia which gave rise to it, the Regional Vicar shall act in accordance with the procedures required by canon law and shall inform the competent civil authorities. Otherwise, the Regional Vicar shall issue a reasoned decree to dismiss the case, retaining documentation in his confidential archive which certifies the steps taken and the reasons for the decision made. Nevertheless, when the accused is a cleric, the DDF shall be informed (cf. SST, Articles 6 and 16) – even when it has been decided to dismiss the case – for which purpose the Regional Vicar shall send an authenticated copy of the minutes of the investigation and the corresponding decree to the Curia of the Prelature as soon as possible.

Art. 26   

Any person who is found guilty of committing a crime of abuse against a child or vulnerable person shall be dismissed from his or her apostolic or pastoral tasks or responsibilities in the Prelature. Nevertheless, such a person shall be offered appropriate support for their psychological and spiritual rehabilitation, as well as for their social reintegration.

Art. 27    

For the local application of these directives, each Regional Vicar shall revise the safeguarding procedures for minors in his region, having regard to the model procedures issued with this Policy, the indications given by the Episcopal Conference of the Region and the civil legislation in force.

 

Rome, 22 February 2020