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Bill forces bishops to report sexual abuse cases

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Earlier this week Vatican officials issue a mandate that all bishops report incidents of sexual abuse with in the church. Today, Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz introduced a bill that would require the same of Guam's clerical personnel.  Says Cruz, "This is the first time that the Vatican has made it clear that church officials must report abuses if mandated by law.

"Bill 372 makes it clear in Guam civil law that clerics cannot claim privileged communications as a basis for failure to make such reports."

Currently under Guam law teachers, nurses, doctors, social services workers, police officers and other professionals are required to report cases of suspected abuse. The bill would add the job positions of bishops, pastors, priests, deacons and other clerical posts.  "As a former Family Court judge," continued Cruz, "I was always frustrated by priests' refusal to report alleged abuse, especially sexual abuse, because they were prevented by church rule. I hope that this move by the Vatican signals an end to the decades of church secrecy regarding sexual abuse by the clergy."

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