This guidance excludes Bishops, Supreme Moderators or their equivalents as defined in Vos estis lux mundi, for guidance on the process for these members of Church personnel see 2.3. This guidance also excludes other Church authorities outside of the definitions contained in Vos estis lux mundi, for guidance on the process for these members of Church personnel see 2.42. Following the initial investigation report prepared by the delegated person , if there is a case to answer, then the preliminary investigation must be concluded by decree (2.46).


The delicts relating to child safeguarding are defined in Appendix E.

Burdens of proof

 In the canonical process there are three different stages, with three different levels of proof. These are referred to by three different terms:

  1. Semblance of truth – the lowest level of proof; this is what is required for the Church authority to begin the preliminary investigation;
  2. Probability that a delict did or did not occur – a threshold that is a little higher than the semblance of truth. This is what the preliminary investigation looks for. The word ‘probable’ is used here in the literal sense, i.e. the possibility of proving a delict in a canonical trial;
  3. Moral Certainty – what a canonical trial looks for.

When is the CDF notified?

CDF will have been informed that an allegation has been received and may be consulted at any time during the case management process.

  • In circumstances where an allegation has been substantiated within the statutory forum, in terms of a criminal prosecution, this information must be incorporated into a report that is forwarded with the Church authority’s votum to the CDF, using S4.43.
  • If the allegation is unsubstantiated within the statutory forum, but where there continues to be reasonable grounds for concern regarding a reserved delict, S4.43 – along with the votum of the Church authority – should be compiled and forwarded either directly to the CDF (diocesan clergy) or through the superior general to the CDF (religious order). The CDF will investigate using the burdens of proof outlined on the previous page and will make a determination on the status of the respondent based on the facts presented, affording all canonical rights and entitlements to the respondent.

A respondent who has received a conviction for an offence against a child, or who has been found guilty under canon law, may be requested to seek laicisation. If they refuse, a process of dismissal, in accordance with the norms of canon law, may be initiated. Once it has been established, by whatever means, that sexual abuse has occurred, the respondent should not be permitted to return to ministry and the statutory authorities are informed.

In circumstances where a decision has been made to allow the respondent to remain a priest/ Brother/Sister, a permanent management plan must be put in place . This requires that, among other things, the respondent refrains from having any unsupervised contact with children, does not wear clerical/religious clothes and does not exercise any form of public ministry, and that they remain under supervision. Specific measures are determined by the Church authority, with advice from the advisory panel or NCMC.

Compliance is monitored by the DLP or other properly appointed personnel. The DLP is responsible for putting in place a system of monitoring by taking on this responsibility or appointing someone else to do so. Those who remain a member of the diocese/religious order and who are ‘out of ministry’ should be provided with support and encouraged to rebuild their lives in a spirit of repentance and reparation.

Any new concerns must be reported to the statutory services, in accordance with the procedure outlined in Standard 2 (2.2). In certain circumstances, such concerns are also notified to the CDF. If the CDF inquiries are inconclusive and further inquiries are required, an appropriate interim management plan should remain in place, proportionate to the level of risk to children, whilst the advice of the advisory panel, NCMC and the statutory authorities is sought.