On Dec. 17, Pope Francis announced major changes to the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with sexual-abuse cases involving minors, abolishing the rule of "pontifical secrecy" that previously covered them, HuffPost reported.
The lifting of "pontifical secrecy" in sex-abuse investigations was a crucial demand by church leaders at a summit on sexual abuse held at the Vatican in February. The leaders contended that such secrecy was outdated.
Also, the pontiff accepted the resignation of Archbishop Luigi Venturathe Holy See's ambassador to France who has been accused of sexual molestation.
The pro-LGBTQ Catholic organization Dignity USA sent a statement to Windy City Times about the development. "Today, Pope Francis has taken a significant step in putting the victims and survivors of clergy sex abuse at the center of this scandal, where they should have been since the beginning," said Chicago native Christopher Pett, president of DignityUSA.
"By finally conceding that civil authorities are the proper investigators of sexual abuse claims and ending compulsory silence on the part of victims, the Pope is acknowledging that Church officials, from the local level to the Vatican, need to be more transparent and accountable," continued Pett. "This will finally give those most directly impacted some sense they will be heard, and that their experience matters more than the preservation of the very institution that harmed them."
DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke noted that many LGBTQI people are among those abused by priests over the decades. "Many LGBTQI victims who've told me their stories have said they felt their abuser knew the secret they were carrying as children and used that knowledge either in pretending to help them, or to ensure their silence. These priests reinforced the shame these young people were experiencing and made coming out even more difficult. We have even heard of diocesan officials threatening to make victims' sexual orientation or gender identity public when reports were filed. Had civil authorities been involved earlier on, this compounding of the abuse might have been prevented."
The HuffPost item is at HuffPost.com/entry/pope-francis-catholic-church-sexual-abuse-reforms_n_5df8cc6ae4b047e888a449ca .