scorecardresearch Skip to main content

No policy in place to protect children within Vatican City

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has taken measures to address a spiraling sex abuse scandal in Chile, but he hasn’t moved on a problem closer to home: Vatican City itself does not have policies to protect children from pedophile priests or require suspected abuse to be reported to police.

Seven years after the Vatican ordered all bishops conferences around the world to develop written guidelines to prevent abuse, tend to victims, punish offenders, and keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, the headquarters of the Catholic Church has no such policy.

The gap in Francis’ oft-pledged ‘‘zero tolerance’’ for abuse is surprising, given that the Holy See told the United Nations five years ago that it was developing a ‘‘safe environment program’’ for children inside the 44-acre Vatican City.


Asked about the promised child protection guidelines, the secretary general of the Vatican City State administration, Monsignor Fernando Vergez, said he couldn’t respond ‘‘since the study and verification of the project are still underway.’’

Thousands of children pass through the Vatican walls every day, touring the Vatican Museums, attending papal audiences and Masses, and visiting St. Peter’s Square and basilica.

The absence of clear-cut policy became evident late last year following revelations that a teenage seminarian in the Vatican’s youth seminary had, in 2012, accused one of the older boys of sexually molesting his roommate.

No one ever interviewed the alleged victim,

The student who lodged the complaint, Kamil Jarzembowski, was promptly kicked out of the seminary while the accused seminarian was ordained a priest last year.

The Associated Press has learned that the victim has since filed a formal complaint with the Vatican’s criminal tribunal and Italian church authorities launched a canonical investigation into the newly ordained priest.