This Appendix includes several legislative texts of particular importance in the preliminary investigation of allegations or sexual abuse information with some brief comments.

A - The Crime of Child Sexual Abuse in Church and State Law

Issued April 30, 2001, with the revision of May 21, 2010, further revised by the Rescriptum ex Audientia of 11 October 2021 and published on 7 December 2021 as the "Norms Regarding Delicts Reserved to the [Dicastery] for the Doctrine of the Faith "

Art. 6

§1 The more grave delicts against morals which are reserved to the judgement of the [Dicastery] for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years or with a person who habitually has the imperfect use of reason; ignorance or error on the part of the cleric regarding the age of the minor does not constitute an extenuating or exonerating circumstance;

the acquisition, possession, exhibition, or distribution, for purposes of sexual gratification or profit, of pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen years, in any manner and by any means whatsoever, by a cleric.

A.2 - The Procedure and Praxis of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Article on Graviora delicta by Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna

Section A - Delicta contra mores

Regarding the offence of sexual abuse of minors, some considerations of the Procedure and Praxis of the CDF are relevant:

A. The motu proprio speaks of a "delictum cum minore". This does not mean only physical contact or direct abuse but includes indirect abuse also (for example: showing pornography to minors; lewd indecent exposure in front of minors). Included also is the possession of, or downloading from the internet of, paedophilic pornography. (…)

B. Can. 1395 §2 CIC speaks of a delict with a minor under 16: "cum minore infra aetatem sedecim annorum". The motu proprio, on the other hand, speaks of a delict with a minor under 18: "delictum … cum minore infra aetatem duodeviginti annorum". Therefore, the classification of the delict becomes more complex. Some experts, in fact, speak not only of paedophilia (the sexual attraction to prepubescent children) but also of ephebophilia (the sexual attraction to adolescents), of homosexuality (the sexual attraction to adults of the same sex) and of heterosexuality (the sexual attraction to adults of the other sex). Between sixteen and eighteen years of age, some "minors" may indeed be perceived as objects of homosexual or heterosexual attraction. Some civil jurisdictions consider a person of sixteen years as capable of giving consent for sexual activity (whether hetero- or homosexual). The motu proprio, however, stigmatizes as a delict every violation of the Sixth Commandment with a minor under eighteen years of age whether based on paedophilia, ephebophilia, homosexuality or heterosexuality. This differentiation has, nevertheless, an importance from the psychological, pastoral and juridical points of view. It helps, no doubt, both the Ordinary and the judge in grasping the gravity of the delict and choosing the path necessary for the reform of the guilty cleric, the reparation of scandal and the restitution of justice (cfr. Can. 1341).

A.3 - Civil Law Definitions

NORTHERN IRELAND (Co-operating to Safeguard Children in NI, 2016, revised 2017)

Abuse: Harm can be suffered by a child or young person by acts of abuse perpetrated upon them by others. Abuse can happen in any family, but children may be more at risk if their parents have problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health, or if they live in a home where domestic abuse happens. Abuse can also occur outside of the family environment. Evidence shows that babies and children with disabilities can be more vulnerable to suffering abuse.

Although the harm from the abuse might take a long time to be recognisable in the child or young person, professionals may be in a position to observe its indicators earlier, for example, in the way that a parent interacts with their child. Effective and ongoing information sharing is key between professionals.

Physical abuse is deliberately physically hurting a child. It might take a variety of different forms, including hitting, biting, pinching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating a child.

Sexual abuse occurs when others use and exploit children sexually for their own gratification or gain or the gratification of others. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape, or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via e-technology). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child. It is also sometimes called psychological abuse and it can have severe and persistent adverse effects on a child's emotional development. Emotional abuse may involve deliberately telling a child that they are worthless, or unloved and inadequate. It may include not giving a child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them, or 'making fun' of what they say or how they communicate. Emotional abuse may involve bullying - including online bullying through social networks, online games or mobile phones - by a child's peers.

Exploitation is the intentional ill-treatment, manipulation or abuse of power and control over a child or young person; to take selfish or unfair advantage of a child or young person or situation, for personal gain. It may manifest itself in many forms such as child labour, slavery, servitude, engagement in criminal activity, begging, benefit or other financial fraud or child trafficking. It extends to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation can be sexual in nature.

Neglect is the failure to provide for a child's basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, supervision or shelter that is likely to result in the serious impairment of a child's health or development. Children who are neglected often also suffer from other types of abuse.

Child pornography

The Protection of Children Order 1978, with the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, makes it an offence for anyone to take, allow to be taken, possess, show, distribute or publish any indecent image of a child. For the purpose of these Orders, a child is defined as anyone aged under eighteen.

Sexual abuse in Northern Irish Criminal Law

Child Sexual Exploitation is not a specific criminal offence in itself. It does however, encompass a range of sexual offences and other forms of serious criminal misconduct.

The legal age of consent is 16 years, although the relevant age in relation to indecent images is 18 years. It is a crime to possess, take, make, distribute or show anyone an indecent or abusive image of a child or young person under 18 years of age.

Any sexual activity with any child or young person under the age of 16, whether they consent or not, is a criminal offence. It is an offence for a person to have a sexual relationship with a 16 or 17 year old if they hold a position of trust or authority in relation to them.

Non-consensual sex is rape, whatever the age. If the victim is incapacitated through drink or drugs, or the victim, or his or her family, has been subjected to violence or the threat of it, they cannot be considered to have given true consent and, therefore, offences may have been committed.

The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 introduced a range of offences that recognized the grooming, coercion and control of children -

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (Children First Guidance, 2017)

Physical Abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child physically or puts them at risk of being physically hurt. It may occur as a single incident or as a pattern of incidents. A reasonable concern exists where the child's health and/or development is, may be, or has been damaged as a result of suspected physical abuse.

Physical abuse can include the following:

The Children First Act 2015 includes a provision that abolishes the common law defence of reasonable chastisement in court proceedings. This defence could previously be invoked by a parent or other person in authority who physically disciplined a child. The change in the legislation now means that in prosecutions relating to assault or physical cruelty, a person who administers such punishment to a child cannot rely on the defence of reasonable chastisement in the legal proceedings. The result of this is that the protections in law relating to assault now apply to a child in the same way as they do to an adult.

Emotional abuse is the systematic emotional or psychological ill-treatment of a child as part of the overall relationship between a caregiver and a child. Once-off and occasional difficulties between a parent/carer and child are not considered emotional abuse. Abuse occurs when a child's basic need for attention, affection, approval, consistency and security are not met, due to incapacity or indifference from their parent or caregiver. Emotional abuse can also occur when adults responsible for taking care of children are unaware of and unable (for a range of reasons) to meet their children's emotional and developmental needs. Emotional abuse is not easy to recognise because the effects are not easily seen.

A reasonable concern for the child's welfare would exist when the behaviour becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer.

Emotional abuse may be seen in some of the following ways:

It should be noted that no one indicator is conclusive evidence of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is more likely to impact negatively on a child where it is persistent over time and where there is a lack of other protective factors.

Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratifcation or arousal, or for that of others. It includes the child being involved in sexual acts (masturbation, fondling, oral or penetrative sex) or exposing the child to sexual activity directly or through pornography.

Child sexual abuse may cover a wide spectrum of abusive activities. It rarely involves just a single incident and in some instances occurs over a number of years. Child sexual abuse most commonly happens within the family, including older siblings and extended family members.

Cases of sexual abuse mainly come to light through disclosure by the child or his or her siblings/friends, from the suspicions of an adult, and/or by physical symptoms. It should be remembered that sexual activity involving a young person may be sexual abuse even if the young person concerned does not themselves recognise it as abusive.

Examples of child sexual abuse include the following:

It should be noted that in criminal law the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years for both boys and girls. Any sexual relationship where one or both parties are under the age of 17 is illegal. However, it may not necessarily be regarded as child sexual abuse.

Neglect occurs when a child does not receive adequate care or supervision to the extent that the child is harmed physically or developmentally. It is generally de ned in terms of an omission of care, where a child's health, development or welfare is impaired by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, medical care, intellectual stimulation or supervision and safety.

Emotional neglect may also lead to the child having attachment difficulties. The extent of the damage to the child's health, development or welfare is influenced by a range of factors. These factors include the extent, if any, of positive influence in the child's life as well as the age of the child and the frequency and consistency of neglect.

Neglect is associated with poverty but not necessarily caused by it. It is strongly linked to parental substance misuse, domestic violence, and parental mental illness and disability.

A reasonable concern for the child's welfare would exist when neglect becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer. This may become apparent where you see the child over a period of time, or the effects of neglect may be obvious based on having seen the child once.

The following are features of child neglect:

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, which is amended by Section 6 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2007, makes it an offence to possess, produce, distribute, print or publish child pornography.

Sexual abuse in Irish Criminal Law

Children First Act 2015, as amended by Section 55 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017: -

Section 2: - "sexual abuse" means, in relation to a child - (a) an offence against the child, specified in Schedule 3.

Schedule 3 of the Children First Act 2015 as amended specifies 'offence against the child' for the purposes of paragraph (a) of the definition of 'sexual abuse' in Section 2 of the Act as:

1. Rape.

2. Rape under section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990.

3. Sexual assault.

4. Aggravated sexual assault within the meaning of section 3 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990.

5. An offence under section 1 of the Punishment of Incest Act 1908 (incest by males).

6. An offence under section 2 of the Punishment of Incest Act 1908 (incest by females of or over 17 years of age).

7. An offence under section 6(1) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 (soliciting or importuning for purposes of commission of sexual offence).

8. An offence under section 2 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 (defilement of child under 15 years of age).

9. An offence under section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 (defilement of child under 17 years).

9A An offence under section 3A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 (offence by person in authority).

10. An offence under either of the following provisions of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998:

a. section 3 (child trafficking and taking, etc., child for sexual exploitation);

b. section 4 (allowing child to be used for child pornography);

c. section 4A (organising etc. child prostitution or production of child pornography);

d. section 5A (participation of child in pornographic performance).

11. An offence under section 5 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 in so far as it relates to a child who has been trafficked for the purpose of his or her exploitation (soliciting or importuning for purposes of prostitution of trafficked person).

12. An offence under section 176 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 (reckless endangerment of children).

13. An offence under section 249 of the Children Act 2001 (causing or encouraging sexual offence upon a child).

14. An offence under any of the following provisions of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017:

a. section 4 (invitation etc. to sexual touching);

b. section 5 (sexual activity in the presence of child);

c. section 6 (causing child to watch sexual activity);

d. section 8 (use of information and communication technology to facilitate sexual exploitation of child).

B. Plausible Notitiae

Can. 1717 §1 CIC

Whenever the Ordinary receives information, which has at least the semblance of truth, about an offence, he is to enquire carefully, either personally or through some suitable person, about the facts and circumstances, and about the imputability of the offence, unless this enquiry would appear to be entirely superfluous. 

Although it's true in general, as indicated by Can. 1717 CIC that "it is a positive condition for initiating the investigation that such evidence as is inferred from the notitia received leads to the consideration that the commission of a crime is probable" (Josemaría Sanchís, Commentary to c. 1717 in Code of Canon Law, Exegetic Commentary, EUNSA), it should not be forgotten that considering the delicacy of the matter (it must be borne in mind that the offences against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue are very rarely committed before witnesses) the current guidance is that the judgement of lack of plausibility (which could lead to the omission of the previous investigation) will be issued only in the event of the manifest impossibility of the crime (cfr. Linee guida per la protezione dei minori e delle persone vulnerabili , Vicariato della Citta del Vaticano, 26 March 2019, F-6).

The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to see whether the plausibility of the reported facts is confirmed. However, it will be in the judicial or extrajudicial process that may follow the preliminary investigation where one obtains the moral certainty necessary to impose a penalty. Therefore, at the end of the preliminary investigation, the accused is not yet found guilty. If the accused has confessed, this is not a substitute for the established procedure.

C. Imputability

Can. 1717 §1 CIC

Whenever the Ordinary receives information, which has at least the semblance of truth, about an offence, he is to enquire carefully, either personally or through some suitable person, about the facts and circumstances, and about the imputability of the offence, unless this enquiry would appear to be entirely superfluous. 

What is imputability? When are the reported facts considered attributable to the accused?

Imputability is the quality of an action or omission that makes it attributable to its author in that he or she has intentionally or negligently violated the law. In the terminology of criminal law - also in the penal canon law - the intentional violation of the law is calledwilful misconduct and negligent violation of the law is called culpable misconduct. These are the two forms of imputability described in the Code of Canon Law.

Can. 1321 CIC

§1 Any person is considered innocent until the contrary is proved.

§2 No one can be punished unless the commission by him or her of an external violation of a law or precept is gravely imputable by reason of malice or of culpability. 

§3 A person who deliberately violated a law or precept is bound by the penalty prescribed in that law or precept. If, however, the violation was due to the omission of due diligence, the person is not punished unless the law or precept provides otherwise. 

§4 Where there has been an external violation, imputability is presumed, unless it appears otherwise. 

D. Time Limits for Prosecution of Sexual Abuse

Josemaría Sanchís, Comentario al c. 1717 in Código de Derecho Canónico, Comentario Exegético, EUNSA

Any person has the liberty to report a crime, "complaint" being understood in a broad sense as the act by which notification of a crime is given to the authorities. The denunciation of crimes is to be considered not only a power but also an obligation, moral or juridical, depending on the case (...) However, the presentation of the complaint does not presume the initiation of criminal action - which is the sole responsibility of the promoter of justice by order of the Ordinary (cfr. Can. 1430 and Can. 1721 §1 CIC), and never the injured party, nor does it carry with it the obligation to demonstrate the guilt of the accused.

The purpose of the criminal action is to open a process to declare or impose a penalty. The possibility of exercising it is extinguished by the passage of time. This is called prescription, which is regulated by law.

In the penal process opened as a consequence of the criminal action exercised by the Promoter of Justice, the injured party can also prosecute an adversarial or penal action to obtain compensation for the damage he has suffered as a consequence of the crime (cfr. Can. 1596 CIC and Can. 1729 §1 CIC).

D.1 - Prescription in Canon Law

Motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela April 30, 2001, with the revision of May 21, 2010, further revised by the Rescriptum ex Audientia of 11 October 2021 and published on 7 December 2021 as the " Norms Regarding Delicts Reserved to the [Dicastery] for the Doctrine of the Faith "

Art. 8

§1 Criminal action concerning delicts reserved to the [Dicastery] for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by prescription after twenty years.

§2 Prescription runs according to the norm of Can. 1362 §2 CIC and CCEO, Can. 1152 §3. However, in the case of the delict mentioned in Art. 6, 1°, prescription begins on the day the minor reaches the age of eighteen.

§3 The [Dicastery] for the Doctrine of the Faith has the right to derogate from prescription for all individual cases of reserved delicts, even if they concern delicts committed prior to the coming into force of the present Norms.

D.2 - Statute of Limitations in Civil Law

Time limits in Irish criminal prosecutions

Summary offences. In the case of a summary offence (an offence tried in the District Court before a judge without a jury) the Gardaí must make a complaint to the District Court within 6 months of the offence being committed. These offences include most Road Traffic Offences like speeding, illegal parking and fixed charge notice offences.

Indictable offences. Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 1951 (as amended by Section 177 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006) states that the time limits that are provided for summary offences do not apply to an indictable offence that can be tried summarily (an indictable offence is tried by a judge and jury in the Circuit Court or the Central Criminal Court). Technically, therefore, there is no time limit for the commencement of proceedings in the case of an indictable offence unless specific legislation provides one.

However, if there is an excessively long delay in prosecuting an offence, the judge may decide not to hear the case. In making the decision, the judge considers whether the delay has reduced the chances of the accused receiving a fair trial, for example, if the delay means that key witnesses are no longer available to give evidence or if the delay could have affected their memory of what happened.

Time limits in Northern Irish criminal prosecutions

Criminal proceedings in Northern Ireland are usually commenced by either the PSNI charging the accused or by the Public Prosecution Service NI (PPSNI) making a complaint to a lay magistrate under Art. 20 of The Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981.

Summary offences. A complaint for summary offences (which are triable only in a Magistrates' Court) must be made within six months from the time when the offence was committed, otherwise the Magistrates' Court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter. Such offences include common assault, harassment and most driving offences. (Art. 19 of The Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981).

Indictable offences. For all other offences, there is no statutory time limit. The police have no set time constraint on their investigations, but where there is a delay to a prosecution and there is fault on the part of the police, which leads to prejudice, then the proceedings may be subject to an application to stay for 'abuse of process'. Moreover, the right to have a trial within a reasonable time is enshrined in Art. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights ('the right to a fair trial'). This is a complicated area of law and there are competing issues of public interest.


The Extra-Judicial Penal Procedure of the CIC

§1 After receiving the Prelate's approval to use the extra-judicial administrative procedure, the Vicar without delay will summon the defendant with his advocate (cfr. Can. 1509 CIC) - warning him that it is expedient for him to appear with his advocate (cfr. Can. 1483 CIC) - to notify him, in accordance with Can. 55 CIC, of the decree of conclusion of the preliminary investigation (cfr. Art. 52), of the consent of the Prelate to the extra-judicial procedure, of the formal accusation and of the evidence, in accordance with Can. 1720, 1° CIC.

§2 The Vicar or his delegate, the defendant and the notary must be present at the arraignment. The notary is responsible for drawing up the minutes, which are signed by all those present at the end of the hearing.

§3 The Vicar or the notary shall read to the accused the indictment and the list of the items of evidence on which it is based. The presentation shall be supplemented orally or in writing as necessary to ensure that the accused is given the possibility to defend himself adequately against all aspects of the charge.

§4 If the defendant, duly summoned, does not appear at the session, the procedure will be carried out following the indications of Can. 1592 to Can. 1593 CIC.

§5 In the same session, the Vicar (cfr. Can. 1342 §3 CIC) may notify the accused of the possible precautionary measures which he has decreed, if he considers them necessary for one of the purposes foreseen in Can. 1722 CIC.

§6 At the end of the session, before signing the minutes, the Vicar is to fix a date and time for the next session, giving the accused sufficient time to prepare his defence and to present the proofs which he considers opportune, always bearing in mind Can. 1728 §2 CIC.

§7 If the proposed evidence includes testimonial or expert statements, the Vicar shall summon by decree each proposed witness or expert, notifying them of the summons in accordance with Can. 1509 CIC.

§8 The Vicar, the defendant with his advocate, and at least one notary or two witnesses must be present at the hearing for the presentation of the pleadings and proofs of the defence. The Vicar shall order the session in the manner which he judges prudent, following in what is useful the indications of Can. 1526 to Can. 1586 CIC incl.

§9 The Vicar shall fix dates for any subsequent hearings that may be necessary to complete the presentation of evidence within the shortest possible time, avoiding unnecessary delays but without restricting the rights of the defence.

§10 Once the evidence has been completed, the conclusions will be briefly presented, taking into account the provisions of Can. 1725 CIC.

§11 The notary, or in his absence one of the witnesses, is responsible for drawing up the minutes of all the hearings, which are signed by all those present at the bottom of the document.

§12 Once the presentation of the evidence has been completed, the Vicar will meet as soon as possible with the Advisory Committee to accurately weigh all of the allegations made and proofs adduced in the hearings and investigations that have been carried out (cfr. Can. 1720, 2° CIC). The Can. 1526 to Can. 1586 CIC incl. can serve as a guideline for the evaluation of the evidence.

§13 If, after this evaluation, which should not be unnecessarily prolonged, the Vicar reaches certainty (cf. Can. 1608, in virtue of Can. 1342 §3 CIC) about the abuse and its imputability (cf. Can. 1720, 3° CIC), after verifying that the criminal action has not been extinguished by prescription (cf. Can. 1362 CIC), he must issue the decree of condemnation.

§14 If, on the other hand, it is not possible to reach this moral certainty or if the innocence of the accused is proven (cfr. Can. 1726 CIC), the Vicar must issue a reasoned decree of acquittal, having regard, where appropriate, to the possibility of using the penal remedies and penances provided for by law (cfr. Can. 1339 to Can. 1340 CIC).

§15 This latter provision (no. 14) also applies in the case referred to in no. 13 if the criminal action has been extinguished by prescription (cfr. Can. 1362 CIC).

§16 In the penal decree of condemnation the Vicar must explain the reasons for the certainty reached, that is to say, what facts of the accusation he considers proven in the proceedings and what juridical classification they warrant; what relevant circumstances he considers also proven; for what reasons he does not consider the defences of the convicted person with regard to those facts and circumstances to be valid; and what prescriptions of law are applicable to the case in accordance with the classification indicated. The canonical rules on judgement can serve as a guide to the formal structure of this decree, especially those contained in Can. 1608 and Can. 1611 to Can. 1612 CIC.

§17 In addition, the penalty to be imposed on the convicted person must be expressed in a precise and well-defined manner. In deciding on this matter, the Vicar must follow the norms of Can. 1342 to Can. 1350 CIC incl.

§18 The penal decree must be dated, signed and countersigned in the usual way (cf. Can. 474 CIC). It must be served on the convicted person within fifteen days, in accordance with Can. 55 to Can. 56 CIC.

§19 The decree is to indicate that a hierarchical recourse against it, to the Prelate, is open to the defendant in accordance with Can. 1732 to Can. 1739 CIC incl., and that a recourse has a suspensive effect, pending its resolution (cf. Can. 1353 CIC).


Canonical Response to Child Sexual Abuse Offences

§1 If any act of sexual abuse of a minor by one of the faithful of the Region is either admitted by the perpetrator or confirmed in a canonical judicial or extra-judicial process or procedure carried out in accordance with the norms of law, the Vicar will determine the suitability of the perpetrator to continue in the Prelature.

§2 In any case, any person admitting to or found guilty of committing an offence of abuse against a minor or vulnerable person shall be removed from all pastoral or apostolic positions or duties. However, they shall be offered appropriate support for their psychological and spiritual rehabilitation and social reintegration.

§3 With due regard to the pertinent norms of the Statutes of the Prelature (cf. Statuta, No. 28 to No. 35) the Vicar may propose to the perpetrator of the abuse that he ask the Prelate for a dispensation from membership in the Prelature (cf. ibid., No. 31) or the Vicar can suggest to the Prelate that the perpetrator be expelled from the Prelature. In all cases, the rights that the Statutes of Opus Dei and Canon Law in general recognize for the faithful who have been convicted of a crime in accordance with the law will be respected.

§4 As for the canonical penalties applicable to priests or deacons who commit these offences, the provisions of SST, Articles 7 and 26 apply (cf. Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Circular Letter of 3 May 2011, II; SST 2021 edition).

A. A priest or deacon who has committed an act of sexual abuse against a minor may request a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state at any time.

B. In very serious cases, the Prelate of Opus Dei may ask the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to submit directly to the decision of the Supreme Pontiff the dismissal of the offender from the clerical state together with a dispensation from the law of celibacy, provided that the commission of the offence is clearly established and after the offender has been given the opportunity to defend himself (cf. SST, art. 26).

§5 The Bishop of the diocese in which the abuse occurred shall be informed of the outcome of the case.

§6 The possible readmission of a cleric to the public exercise of his ministry is to be excluded if it could be dangerous for minors or if there is a risk of scandal for the community (cf. Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Circular Letter of 3 May 2011, III, i).

§7 No priest or deacon of the Prelature who has committed an act of sexual abuse against a minor may be entrusted with the duties of priestly or diaconal ministry in another ecclesiastical circumscription or transferred to another ecclesiastical circumscription to carry out a ministerial assignment there, unless the Vicar first informs the Ordinary of that circumscription in detail of the offence of sexual abuse committed and of any other information indicating that the priest or deacon has been or may be a danger to children or young people.

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