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posted Apr 4, 2019, 9:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 4, 2019, 9:28 AM ]

Pope Francis issues new legislation for protection of minors

To better protect minors and vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse and exploitation, Pope Francis approved a new law and a set of safeguarding guidelines for Vatican City State and the Roman Curia. Pope Francis established the new norms and legal, criminal and safeguarding procedures with an apostolic letter given "motu proprio" (on his own initiative), published March 29. The law and procedures were to go into effect from June 1.

Because the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people is an integral part of the Gospel message, "I wish, therefore, to further strengthen the institutional and normative order to prevent and fight abuses against minors and vulnerable adults," the Pope wrote.

In particular, the documents focus primarily on the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and the prevention of crimes against them; while also providing new regulations concerning the duty of reporting abuse, caring for victims and their families, removing offenders from their positions, and prosecuting those guilty of abuse. In his Letter, the Pope also acknowledges the rights of the accused to a fair and impartial trial, including the presumption of innocence, rule of law, and proportionality in sentencing.

Further, Pope Francis provides new norms for training of Vatican officials and employees about "the risks of exploitation, sexual abuse, and maltreatment of children and vulnerable persons, as well as the means to identify and prevent such offences."


Pope honours Italian missionary nun

Sr Maria Concetta Esu is an Italian nun who, for almost 60 years, has devoted her life to missionary work in Africa. In her profession as a midwife, Sr Concetta has delivered thousands of babies, and at 85, her commitment to children, mothers and families continues.

In recognition of her tireless efforts, Pope Francis at the end of his General Audience on March 27, honoured this Sister from the Congregation of the Daughters of St Joseph of Genoni, telling her this accolade was "a sign of our affection and our 'thanks' for all the work you have done in the midst of our African brothers and sisters, in the service of life…"

The Pope told the pilgrims present that he had met Sr Maria Concetta in Bangui in the Central African Republic during his visit to open the Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, adding, "that day, too, she came from Congo in a canoe, … to do her shopping in Bangui."

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Pope to visit three countries in East Africa

The Vatican announced on March 27 that Pope Francis will visit the capital cities of the African countries of Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius in September. From Sept. 4-10, 2019, the Pope will travel to Maputo in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar, and Port Louis in Mauritius.

The visit was accepted at the invitation of the bishops and heads of the respective states, said Papal spokesman Alessandro Gisotti. The full schedule of the apostolic voyage will be published later.

Mauritius is a small island nation located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The whole country is 790 square miles, with just over 1.2 million people. It has one diocese and one Apostolic Vicariate. According to the country's 2011 Census, the largest religion in the country is Hinduism at 48.5 per cent, followed by Christianity at 32.7 per cent. Muslims make up around 17.2 per cent of the country's population and other religions 0.7 per cent.


World's top Religious Leaders issue rare Joint Appeal

Religion is often viewed as a force that sows divisions between people. But the world's most prominent religious leaders have come together to present a different vision of how faith can work in the world.

In a rare move, major religious leaders ― from Pope Francis to the Dalai Lama ― issued a joint appeal on March 27, asking people to follow a simple bit of advice: Make friends with people of other faiths. "Our advice is to make friends with followers of all religions," Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani, one of the U.K.'s most senior Shia Muslim clerics, said in a video recording. "Personal contact, personal friendship, then we can exchange a deeper level of experience," the Dalai Lama said.

Pope Francis chose to speak about his long friendship with the Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who also appeared in the video. "My religious life became richer with his explanations, so much richer," Pope Francis said of Skorka. "And I guess the same happened for him."