Abuse scandal in the church (symbol image) © Evandro Inetti
Bishops in Kerala, India, have reaffirmed their zero tolerance for abuse. In new guidelines, they call for cooperation with authorities and stress that sexual exploitation and abuse are "serious crimes and grave sins".
Catholic bishops in India's Kerala state take further steps in fight against clergy sexual abuse. These include instructions to immediately report sexual assaults to the appropriate state authorities, as reported by the Vatican news portal "Vatican News". The guidelines were sent to priests, churches, educational and religious institutions, and nursing homes throughout the state, according to the report. Kerala is the Indian state with the highest percentage of Christians in the world.
Removal of accused clergy
The bishops call for cooperation with authorities in investigating abuse cases and ensuring the avoidance of inappropriate physical contact with minors. Document stresses "sexual exploitation and abuse of children and vulnerable adults are serious crimes and grave sins".
For the first time, the guidelines provide for the removal from the clergy of clergy who are guilty of sexual assault. The bishops also recommend avoiding "night trips with children" and not taking photos when they are changing clothes.
Abuse allegations against bishop
The behavioral demands of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Kerala (KBC) are also connected with the case of the resigned bishop of Jalandhar (state of Punjab), Franco Mulakkal. He is under investigation in Kerala on charges of raping the former superior of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Jesus.