International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS Pax Romana)


Adopted at the World Assembly of the movement

07th August 2019




II.1. Universal Declarations of Human Rights (UDHR)

II.2. UN convention on the rights of the child

II.3. Minors and vulnerable people

II.4.  Abuse (Harassment and Assault)






As an International youth-led organization of faithful, the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS Pax Romana) proposes this reference document on the protection of Minors and Vulnerable People. It affirms through its continuous commitment for the weakest of society. We Believe that the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults is an integral part of the mission of the church.  It is firmly integrated in our faith that everyone has a unique worth and is created in the image  of God.

The mission of IMCS Pax Romana is rooted in the motto “Preferential option for the poor” which invites its members to prioritise those who are weak socially, politically, economically, anthropologically, psychologically and symbolically as Jesus did during His earthly life. Every Christian is called to protect the poor, in all their forms, in accordance with respect to human dignity and social justice.

This reference document can be used for the development of local policies, enhancing the principles outlined in the local context in order to ensure relevance as well as uniformity. The aim of this policy is to enable an integration of values that establishes a safe space for everyone within the movement, especially during its gatherings. It is also an opportunity for the members to recall their rights and responsibilities towards minors and vulnerable people as well as peers, in the light of the gospel which defines our lives as Catholics.

Moreover, all dispositions and procedures compiled in this document are also applied to clergy and religious linked to the movement such as chaplains, all employees and volunteers who have access to minors and vulnerable adults in the course of their work for the movement.



II.1. Universal Declarations of Human Rights (UDHR)

The UDHR is the most accepted and exhaustive human rights document. It settles the important values that should guide the decision, behaviour for and among all human beings.


The very first article of the UDHR declares that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This is an important element where it is clearly shown that nobody has neither dignity nor power over others.

According to Article 3 “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” It claims that the persecution and disturbance of security and liberty of any kind of person is a violation of human rights.  This is strengthened by the following statement: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (art. 5)

Point 2 of article 25 notices that “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection”.

From these articles appears three important elements to consider:

  1. Each person is entitled to Dignity and security everywhere and anytime;
  2. Every child shall benefit in all environments, a special protection in regard to its fragility;
  3. The physical and mental integrity are part of the rights that everyone, including children, is entitled to.

Each action towards a person should therefore ensure the liberty and the integrity of each protagonists and their dignity.

II.2. UN convention on the rights of the child

As an international youth led organization in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) involved in the holistic formation of young people, IMCS Pax Romana affirms the rights of the child outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Children especially articles 3 and 19 which states:

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration” (Article 3).

“States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement”  (Article 19).

Therefore, IMCS Pax Romana, as partner of a diverse stakeholders in the UN system, encourage and ensure the adoption and the implementation of this convention as a way to create safe environments for children.

II.3. Minors and vulnerable people

Aligning with the consideration of the Catholic Church and the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC), IMCS Pax Romana considers each person under the age of eighteen as a minor.

Vulnerable people are those who, in a specific time and condition, do not have the power (or enough power) to defend their integrity from violation by others as a result of a wide range of factors (Pregnancy, age, sickness, psychological pressure, physical, spiritual and mental challenges).

Vulnerability does not take away their rights, rather it reinforces the responsibility of those other individuals surrounding them in order to ensure the protection of their fundamental rights as outlined above.

As an international youth-led organisation, we strongly condemn the misuse of power against minors and vulnerable people as a means to suppress, violate, or infringe on their inalienable human dignity and their universally recognised human rights.

II.4.  Abuse (Harassment and Assault)

Harassment is the imposition of a desire upon another person without their consent.

Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela describes the abuse of prepubescent children as a “heinous crime. “

There are many apprehensions of the concept of sexual harassment. While some people consider it as behaviour restricted serious case of aggression, others see it as from a moral perspective. In the context of this policy, we understand Sexual harassment as a concept related to the following actions:

Gender Harassment: generalized sexist statements and behaviour that convey insulting or degrading attitudes about people. Examples include insulting remarks, offensive graffiti, obscene jokes or humour because the sex of the victim;

Seductive Behaviour: unwanted, inappropriate and offensive sexual advances. Examples include repeated unwanted sexual invitations, insistent requests for dinner, drinks or dates, persistent letters, phone calls and other invitations

Sexual Bribery: solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behaviour by promise of reward; the proposition may be either overt or subtle;

Sexual Coercion: coercion of sexual activity or other sex-linked behaviour by threat of punishment; examples include negative performance evaluations, withholding of promotions, threat of termination;

Sexual Imposition: cross sexual imposition (such as forceful touching, feeling, grabbing) or sexual assault.

All other forms of marginalization and symbolic degradation of people’s integrity based on their identity or sexual orientation is considered as a violation of their dignity, therefore a harassment.


The protection of minors and vulnerable persons is an integral part of the Gospel message that the Church and all its members are called to proclaim throughout the world. Christ himself, in fact, has entrusted us with the care and protection of the weakest and defenceless: “whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Mt 18:5). Therefore, we all have the duty to welcome open heartedly minors and vulnerable persons and to create a safe environment for them, with their interests as a priority. This requires a continuous and profound conversion, in which personal holiness and moral commitment come together to promote the credibility of the Gospel proclamation and to renew the educational mission of the Church” (Pope Francis, Motu proprio apostolic letter, March 2019).

IMCS Pax Romana as a Catholic organization fully aligns itself with the commitment and principles of the Holy See, guaranteeing the work for the protection of children and vulnerable people ‘s dignity.


Educational dispositions: IMCS Pax Romana views harassment and sexual abuse as an issue that could be explained by social and cultural representations that lead to this kind of behaviours and therefore could be avoided by a pedagogical dynamic which includes awareness raising and exchange sessions.

Principles: The motto of the movement is “preferential option for the poor”. Each member is expected to act according to this principle when encountering each and every person, but especially when encountering vulnerable people, both minors and adults. The preferential option for the poor is the commitment to use all the means to protect, assist and enhance the dignity of people in need.

Structural dispositions: As abuse of children and vulnerable adults can happen during the gatherings of the movement, IMCS Pax Romana takes the responsibility to remind the ethical and penal dispositions related to harassment. The clear recommendations will be put in the orientation’s booklets that will be used during the gatherings.


As an international organization of Catholic Youth, IMCS Pax Romana is committed to re-establish truth through a simple and efficient process, when a case of abuse arises. This is important to respect the dignity of supposed victims and supposed abusers and protect them from the consequences of mediatic disclosure of abuse. In order to achieve this, the following is settled;

  1. IMCS Pax Romana insists on the fact that the Church does not wish to hide complaints or buy a victim’s silence and therefore will not enter into settlements that bind the parties to confidentiality, unless the victim requests confidentiality, and this request is noted in the text of the agreement;
  2. IMCS Pax Romana is committed, in collaboration with the bishop conference of the locality concerned by any case of abuse, to conform with the exigencies of the local competent authorities;
  3. As sexual abuse is considered a crime, any case of abuse should be reported to the appropriate civil authority;
  4. In cases of complaints such as the accused person has died, when the behaviour of the harasser is not illegal in state law but breaches the Church’s code of conduct, or when the police have investigated but are not intending to prosecute, further investigation procedures should be taken;
  5. The person making the report always has the option to speak to a lay person rather than a member of the clergy or a religious;
  6. The person making the report is encouraged to have a companion of their own choice when making a report;
  7. Once an abuse is noted, the local, regional or international team will identify a support person to those who report abuse, if they wish to have one. The support person’s priority is the welfare of the person reporting abuse and where necessary their family. The support person can liaise with the Church, provide information about the progress of the complaint and advise on access to appropriate support but is not a counsellor. The support person will be someone with a good understanding of the effects of child abuse and in particular the vulnerability of people at the time of making a disclosure;
  8. The IMCS Pax Romana teams commit themselves to hear the reports in a spirit of acceptance and trust;
  9. Any member of the local, national, regional or international teams either lay or religious, will be asked to resign temporarily from his/her position, until the International council has clarified the case reported by the victim. This will be made by a letter addressed to the concerned person and signed by the International Council members;
  10. All sexual harassment is to be taken seriously.  Some incidents, however, can be resolved informally, through dialogue, without recourse to formal procedures, clearing up misunderstandings or aiding people in more clearly defining personal boundaries;

10.1. If it seems to be a possible misunderstanding, or a relatively minor offence resolvable through dialogue, and both victim and abuser consent to a conversation and seem able to engage in a constructive conversation, they will meet in the presence of and facilitated by both a female and male member of the leadership of the meeting;

10.2. If the offence continues, or if the offence was a serious violation of the victim from the start, for example groping or any violent act, the abuser will be removed from the event, until that time both victim and abuser should not be left alone. The victim should receive counselling if willing, and should have assistance in finding accommodation away from the event;

10.3. On account of events will be written up and filed at the International office if and only if a person has been sent home on account of non-criminal acts of harassment;

10.4. If a person has been sent home on account of non-criminal acts, they will be banned from future IMCS Pax Romana events.

10.5. In the case of abuse or suspected abuse, local police will be called.


Everyone, participants and leadership, at an IMCS event should be aware and responsible for their behaviour and prepared to account for it.  Moreover, we are responsible for one another and the credibility of the community. Protection and enhancing the integrity of the vulnerable should be the primary aim as it aligns with our mission. Everyone should denounce any case/ suspicion of harassment or abuse taking place and/or approach the person being harassed to see how one could help. It is the role of everyone to tell the harasser or abuser that their words or actions are inappropriate and make everyone feel uncomfortable. Speak with the pastoral team or other event leaders and call for help.