As the Vatican’s much-anticipated first summit on the abuse of children got underway Thursday, Pope Francis said he hopes that “concrete and effective measures” will emerge from the gathering of the world’s leading bishops. To get that discussion started, Francis handed out a list of points for the days-long conversation among 190 Catholic leaders.
The document raises a number of ideas: a handbook for how abuse cases should be handled, an increase in the church’s minimum marriage age to 16, mandatory codes of conduct, and background checks for all church staff and volunteers worldwide.
Some of the suggestions are already in place in the United States, such as psychological evaluations of men who want to become priests and removal from ministry of any priest found guilty of abusing a child, but not in all countries.
The document recommends protocols for handling accusations against bishops, which was a central proposal at a meeting of U.S. bishops last fall, when the Vatican asked the Americans not to implement their ideas yet.