On the second anniversary of Pope Francis' meeting with the presidents of the episcopal conferences on the protection of minors in the Catholic Church, which took place in the Vatican from February 21 to 24, 2019, members of the Expert Group for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons at SBC (EG) met on February 17, 2021.
EG members first heard a lecture by Assoc. Prof Dr Stanislav Slatinek on Secrecy and Duty of Indictment. Instruction on Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings. The lecturer drew attention to the difference between official and papal secrecy and first presented the Instructio secreta continere, prepared by the Secretariat of State (Holy See) and approved by Pope Paul VI February 4, 1974. The document contains norms on papal secrecy. Next, the lecturer spoke about the Instruction on Confidentiality of Legal proceedings (publishedon December 17, 2019, on Pope's 83rd birthday), which stipulates that indictments, procedures and decisions regarding clerics' crimes against the Sixth Commandment are no longer pontifical secrets. The information (indictments, procedures, decisions) is not in the public domain, however cooperation with a state is facilitated.
Alleged victims, who have not had the opportunity to find out about decisions after an allegation because the information was under papal secrecy, can now (as of December 17, 2019) be informed of a decision. However, the judge's discretion to decide which information to provide to the public remains in force.
After a discussion, EG members also examined past work. They expressed their commitment to the constant monitoring of innovations in the field of criminal law, both canon and state law. They welcomed the changes in criminal law in the Vatican City State, adopted by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter of February 16, 2021. He introduced the reintegration of convicts into society among ultimate goals.
EG members called for zero tolerance in detecting sexual abuse and fair judicial, administrative and other proceedings in this area within church communities and the proper treatment of alleged victims and defendants. They also stressed the need for cooperation between church and state authorities in detecting sexual abuse and confirmed that this cooperation has been excellent.
Dr Sebastijan Valentan