Professional Conduct

The Catholic Church in Southern Africa, under the leadership and guidance of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference cannot be satisfied with merely reacting to allegations of sexual abuse of the young. Rather it wants to be proactive in preventing abuse.

In fact the Bishops’ Conference is convinced that the protection of all life and all persons is a priority Gospel imperative. All life is part of God’s plan, therefore the Catholic Church wants to develop approaches to life issues that are a ‘seamless garment’.

These approaches include the promotion of:

  • A Culture of Life in order to deal with Abortion, Euthanasia and other life related medico-ethical issues, foetal stem cell experimentation.



  • A Culture of Safety for Children. While the primary responsibility for the safety and well-being of children lies with the parents and the immediate family, the safety of children demands the active engagement of the whole community, and especially the Church.


The Church’s Ministry to the young is an essential part of the mission given to it by Christ Himself. For that reason the Conference mandates the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee under the supervision of the Secretary General to oversee policies and procedures necessary for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable adults.

Child Protection Policy and procedures –‘Safeguarding our Children’
 – Download the PDF here.

Document status: This Document is approved for comment, circulation and use ‘ad experimentum’

A Culture of Integrity in Ministry. The Conference document ‘Integrity in Ministry’ seeks to establish standards of professional behaviour derived for the values of the Gospel, as well as the professional principles of transparency and accountability for Religious, Clerics and lay Church workers.
 Download ‘Integrity on Ministry’ here.
Document status: This document is approved for use ‘ad experimentum’.

The Catholic Bishops are committed to following norms and standards that meet the requirements of Canon Law and Civil Law. Consequently, all rumours, allegations, reports or complaints of sexual abuse or misconduct will be investigated, first of all to establish whether they are credible or not. These preliminary investigations are done by Provincial Professional Conduct Committees based in each Archdiocese. The overall responsibility for ensuring that these procedures are followed conscientiously lies with the SACBC Professional Conduct Committee.

Documents relating to a sexual abuse of Minors:
“Protocol for the investigation of complaints of Sexual Abuse of minors by Clerics and Religious – 2013 edition”Download PDF here.

Document Status: Approved for use in the Territory of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference from November 2011. This edition replaces all other protocols and procedures.

“Vade Mecum for Ordinaries” – 
Download PDF here

Document Status: Under constant revision.
“Protocol for the preliminary investigation of sexual misconduct between adults”Download the PDF here

Status: Approved for use ‘ad experimentum’ Currently under review.


As with most law systems, transgressions committed are tried under the law in force at the time.
(Historical versions of the Protocols are available for download here)
South African Law

“Childrens Act”

“Childrens Justice Act”

“Sexual Offenders Act”

All Professional conduct enquiries are to be directed to:

All files available for download are licensed under Creative Commons Licence 3, unless expressly stated.