New Delhi: Rattled by increasing complaints of sexual assault by priests, the Catholic Church in India is formulating "holistic" guidelines for dealing with cases of all forms of abuse of children in its institutions.
The guidelines, which will be finalised by June after consulting all dioceses, include reporting of any form of abuse by priests or others associated with Church to police
and expelling "guilty" priests.
The Catholic Bishops` Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic Church in the country, has given final touches to the guidelines at its conference in Bangalore
"We have a zero-tolerance towards any form of abuse of
children. We are formulating holistic guidelines to deal with
cases of physical and psychological abuse. This is not
restricted to sexual abuse alone," Babu Joseph, a CBCI
"We will not shield anybody. We will report to police
matters which are needed to be reported to them," Joseph said.
The Catholic Church is in the eye of a storm over alleged
sexual abuse by priests, which include the recent case of
Indian priest Rev Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul who was charged
with sexually assaulting a teenage parishioner in Minnesota in
the United States.
Joseph said those found guilty of sexual abuse or any
other form of abuse will have to face the law of the land.
"Besides this, we will also take action against them. It
can be suspension from duties or expelling him from church,"
Noting that the Church is not going to take "any hasty
step," he said they will be formulating guidelines on how to
protect children in church institutions like orphanages,
special homes and schools.
"The guidelines are not just for punishing the clergy. We
will also address the issue of how to ensure the safety of
children in our institutions," he said.