New CDF procedures for attempted “ordination” of women, heresy, apostasy, schism

From CNA.

With my emphases and comments.

Vatican to clarify canonical procedure for attempted ordination of women [I bet National Catholic Fishwrap would have written "procedure for the ordination of women".]

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2010 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More information regarding the soon-to-be-announced modifications to the Vatican’s canonical guidelines for dealing with abusive priests and other sins came to the surface on Thursday. In addition to the previously leaked content, sins such as the attempted ordination of women and "crimes against the faith" [NB: it is a sin.  Certain sins also bring canonical penalties, some automatic.] will also be addressed by the pending Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) document.

Details of possible modifications have been produced by unnamed Vatican sources all week concerning the content of a new document that will update the Church’s legal procedures for recognizing and punishing the most serious sins.

Reports concur across the board that there will be changes in the process of trying priests who have sexually abused minors, and that there will be an increase in the statute of limitations in these cases from the current 10 years to 20 years after the victim turned 18 years old.

According to the Mexican news agency Notimex, which cited unnamed Vatican sources, the scope of the 2001 decree will also be extended to include not only the "delicta graviora," or most serious sins, but a number of other sins typically examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, even though those sins are not mentioned in the 2001 decree.

This means that sins considered to be "less serious" will be officially subject to the same judicial procedures that were previously reserved in canon law only for sins against the Eucharist, the sacrament of Penance and sexual abuse of minors["less serious"?  For example?]

Sins such as the attempted ordination of women to the priesthood and the "crimes against the faith" of heresy, schism and apostasy, [Those seem pretty serious to me!] that have until now been investigated by the CDF only on an extraordinary basis will fall under their official jurisdiction, thus clearing up any confusion as to where cases must be reported. In other words, it formalizes procedures that may have been followed in practice, but were never made official.

According to the July 8 Notimex report, possession and distribution of child pornography will also be declared "serious sins" and, in cases in which they have been found guilty in civil courts, perpetrators could be sentenced without a canonical trial.

The modifications should be promulgated in the coming days, bearing the signature of the prefect of the CDF, Cardinal William Levada, and accompanied by notes explaining the changes and the history of the legislation.



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  1. C. says:

    I don’t understand why these need to be reserved to Rome. It seems like it ought to be the province of every ordinary Bishop to say, this man is a heretic, and condemn him on the spot. Of course, it never happens, not at all. The world must have an unprecedented level of orthodoxy.

    Will this mean that confessing heresy in the future will require Roman absolution?

  2. r7blue1pink says:

    I must make an observation. When Pope Benedict was the head of the CDF, these sorts of clarifications/documents hardly came out. Naturally it gives me reason to believe that he was VERY limited by “others” during JPII’s Pontificate.

    It is such an amazing BREATH of Fresh air to see that these sorts of clarifications are coming into full force, especially in the last year. I remember ALL of us very skeptical of Levada.. I must say Ive come to have an admiration of him, I didnt think he had it in him really.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    “I remember ALL of us very skeptical of Levada.”

    I wasn’t skeptical. God chooses who He wills, when He wills. If we keep that in mind, we never have to be anxious.

  4. Traductora says:

    I had no idea that things like heresy and schism weren’t already considered “serious sins.” I hope this change leads to a better and more uniform ability to deal with them.

    I too am surprised by Levada. But there are people who rise to the level of the duty placed upon them, and it looks as if he may be one of them.

  5. Papabile says:

    I wonder what this will mean for those already under investigation for heresy. Several people in the US are currently under investigation and canonical procedures.

  6. TrueLiturgy says:

    I’m surprised this is not coming out as a moto proprio… I really thought it would. At teh very least it should bare the Pope’s signature. This makes it seem as though these guildelines will only be in force so long as Benedict is alive…..

  7. dans0622 says:

    Several remarks to previous posts.

    TrueLiturgy: If this document comes from the CDF and contains any new law (it seems like it must), then the Pope will have to approve it “in forma specifica” or give the CDF a special mandate to promulgate law, since the congregations do not have that authority on their own. If the document contains “special faculties” given to the CDF, then they would expire at the end of the pontificate. I doubt there will be any of these.

    Papabile: I am not certain but it seems that the principle would be that any investigation which is already underway will go through to conclusion.

    C.: I doubt it will require “Roman absolution.” We’ll see, I guess. We will also have to see if the process is reserved to Rome or if these guidelines are simply going to direct the process at the local level. Perhaps the lack of heresy/apostacy/schism trials is exactly the reason why this document is necessary–local tribunals/bishops don’t know what to do or are afraid to act.

    Perhaps the process the CDF published in 1997 for doctrinal investigations might be incorporated here.

    Very interesting times for canon lawyers.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    Good. Just one good heresy trial ought to do wonders for setting the church back on her feet. It would give notice in a fine way that the party is over and the church has some intention of making sense rather than being one big hereditary party association (which it is not, and never has really been, regardless of appearances).

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