Protection of minors and vulnerable persons

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Association Via Pacis makes its own commitment to prevent abuses of power, conscience and
sexual, both among its members and those who benefit of the Apostolate of the Association. For
this purpose, a special office is set up, formed by competent and adequately trained people.
1. Protection of the internal life of the Via Pacis Association
Since its beginning Via Pacis Association has been promoting courses of formation aiming
to reach an integral development of the person, taking care that the spiritual development
process goes hand in hand with the global one. This shall in particular include the effort to look at
the “wounds” received in the life and their healing process. If these wounds are not recognised
and healed, they risk affecting greatly the relations especially on an affective and family life level.
The Association not only offers a service of accompaniment to the person so that each
member is not alone in their human and spiritual path, but also encourages members “not to walk
alone”, to have a constant dialogue in order to look after the member and their psycho-spiritual
balance. With the aim to prevent abuses of conscience, those who serve in the service of
accompaniment must avoid to carry out any sort of pressure about the choices of the person and
also will have a confrontation with a supervisor, safeguarding the privacy of the same person.
Since the first approaches to the Association, the formation of the members is based on
the respect for the other and the self-control, taking care to transmit them as a fundamental
principal, the value of the freedom of the other which needs to be safeguarded above all else.
The Association watches over those who have any sort of responsibility so that they may exercise
authority as a service aiming to support and encourage the members to answer the evangelical
call, paying attention to the freedom of each single person. We think that it is necessary the
separation between governance rules and service of accompaniment on the conscience sphere.
The issue of paedophilia and the possible deviations, which can affect a free choice in the
affective sphere, are taken into consideration during the period of formation to Covenant to
Celibate life, at the end of which the candidate will chose the status of life of celibacy for the
2. Protection of activities involving minors and vulnerable people inside the Association
The people in charge with the activities that more than other ones entail close relations
with minors and other particularly vulnerable people (people suffering from disability, mental
illness, vulnerability) are adequately formed through specific courses based on caution, vigilance
and modesty.
For each single proposed activity there is a specific registration containing the consent so
that the activity could be activated, the Privacy Statement and the permission to publish the
images of the child on the magazine, web or social network of the Association. The registration has
to be signed by the parents carrying out the parental responsibility, according to the rules of the
Country where the activity will be activated.
Instruction are given to those who are involved in the publication of the images in order to
ensure that they pay respect to the honour and respectability of the depicted people. Imagines of
minors will be treated with care.
In activities involving minors, the number of collaborators must be proportional to the
number of the participants in order to guarantee a constant and effective surveillance. At the
same time potentially “at risk” situations, such as one minor alone with only one operator, will be
avoided. A special care is required for activities involving sleeping away from home. Minors will be
accommodated in different places according to their sex and the operators sleeping with them will
be of the same sex of the minors.
The collaborators are also offered clear indications about the behaviour to be adopted
towards the minors in their care, with particular attention and care to the modalities of physical
contact and the expression of affection. Collaborators conduct should always show prudence and
respect when interacting with minors.
In order to pass the beauty and richness of the gift of sexuality and affectivity, the
Association takes care and organizes paths aimed at training in affectivity. In them, it also deal
with the sexual aspect, always with a view to integration and harmony with other aspects of the
person, avoiding untying it from its proper context.
The training of the animators includes, then, a particular attention and sensitivity to catch
in minors any signs of discomfort and disturbance, psychological and behavioural, such as to raise
doubts about the presence of situations at risk.
In particular, it has long since members working in the health care professions and experts
in the psychological, educational, legal and canonistic sciences have begun the practice to have an
ongoing exchange of views aiming to have a shared vision. A shared vision able to shed light and
clarity on the situations that require greater attention, in order to have the most comprehensive
and complete picture possible.
Should this not suffice, the Association’s leaders are called upon to supervise and to
contact external personnel competent in the matter.
3. Protection in the apostolate activities of the Association
The Association Via Pacis, operating in various Countries around the world, takes care to
respect the different local cultures, adapting – where possible and where this does not conflict
with the good of the child – to the specific legislation on the subject provided for in each single
Country to protect minors.
In this regard, care shall be taken to ensure that all persons who, due to the tasks
entrusted to them, find themselves dealing with minors are adequately trained and selected.
The members are also invited to follow any indications that may be established by the
competent Bishops’ Conference:
– In terms of the suitability of the members appointed to carry out the specific apostolate
in relation to minors and vulnerable persons,
– In the constant verification of the permanence of the requirements and finally,
– In the preparation of instruments of continuous training to implement and consolidate
human, psychological and pedagogical skills in this regard.
4. Ways of appeal and reporting
In the organizational chart of the Association, there is an Office for the protection of minors
and vulnerable persons, composed of three full members of the Association: a doctor, preferably
with expertise in Psychology and/or Sexology; a support person with proven balance and adequate
theological training; a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist and/or a counsellor.
The members of the Association know that this Office is the reference point for all activities
of prevention, training and reporting on abuse.
The Office will listen to the reports, directly or through people appointed in the various
countries in which the Association operates, with due respect for the confidentiality of all parties
involved. The Office will immediately communicate the report to the President of the Association.
The work of investigation and reporting to the ecclesiastical authorities will be carried out in close
collaboration with the Office of the Diocese where the abuse occurred, without prejudice to the
obligation to report criminal attitudes to the competent civil authority.
In case of detection of any abuse, the Association will respond appropriately against the
abuser, aiming, in particular, at avoiding situations that could favour the risk of repetition of
abuse. If there are serious indications, the accused may also be suspended as a precautionary
measure from the services covered.
The accused person must be guaranteed the opportunity to defend him/herself, taking
care to protect his good reputation.
From a pastoral point of view, the Association will take care of persons who are victims of
proven abuse, as well as any members who have been found to be abusing.