New CDF procedures for cases of clerical sexual abuse of minors

I saw this at Paolo Rodari’s blog (in my rapid translation):

[Msgr.] Charles Scicluna, promoter of justics for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, should return to the Vatican around this time after some days of vacation.

With his return rumors are revving up about the imminent release of new regulations against pedophilia.

It it said that they foresee the removal from parish duties of any suspected priest, a streamlined course for reduction to the lay state, the obligation of the local bishop to denounce to civil authorities, an end to the prescription in canon law for crimes against minors, immediate remanding to Rome of the documentation gathered in the diocese.

John Allen wrote about this here: “Vatican set to issue changes in sex abuse rules“.

Giacomo Galeazzi here: “La Santa Sede prepara nuove regole per fermare gli abusi dei sacerdoti“.

Allen wrote:

…sources say the revisions also contain two new wrinkles: They extend the statute of limitations in canon law, known as prescription, for bringing a charge of sexual abuse of a minor from ten years from the victim’s eighteenth birthday to twenty. For the first time, the revisions also identify child pornography as a “grave offense” subject to the doctrinal congregation.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Henry says:

    I’m aware of a recent case of a priest who was accused of abuse 30 years ago (nothing alleged since about 1980).

    As I understood the time-line, legal authorities were immediately informed upon receipt of the accusation; within 24 hours it was determined that the accusation was credible and it was announced that the priest had been “removed from ministry” for life; and within several days he had been picked up by police, arrested, and formally charged.

    In this case, public information seemed to leave no doubt of guilt. However, such rapid action could raise a question whether an innocent priest could be railroaded on the basis of a false accusation.

    Has the pendulum now swung so far that priests are in more danger than minors?

  2. Henry: You raise very good questions.

  3. kat says:

    Yes Henry, that can be scary too. How many times do we see in parishes where priests do or say things that someone just doesn’t like…and how do we know that in anger or worse, someone couldn’t decide to get even by making false accusations.

    Or even worse, as our government becomes less and less kind to religion, and perhaps more like Communist countries, could these accusations be used to take priests away too?

  4. Ismael says:

    No doubt that all the panic raised by the media against the Church will stimulate a paranoia-fuelled ‘witch-hunt’ against many priests, which will not help the situation at all and will not help the victims either.

    Sure, the mistakes that some priests and bishops made are also the cause to this paranoia: many Catholics felt betrayed.

    Yet the media rode the wave to increase the money in their pocket… and exagerating facs and distorting truths is the best way to do it…

  5. PadreOP says:

    Unfortunately, this is part of the burden that all priests in the Church today carry–the knowledge that all it takes is ONE accusation, no matter how false, and your life as a priest (at least in terms of any exercise of public ministry) is over. A friend of a friend of mine is a diocesan priest here in the USA, there was a charge made against him that was thoroughly investigated by the police, who closed the case saying that the charge was baseless and there was absolutely zero evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Nonetheless, this priest’s bishop refuses to restore him to active ministry…telling him (in so many words) that even though he (the bishop) personally believed the priest was innocent, and the police concluded the same thing, the fact that there was any sort of past accusation of any type against him made him “too great a risk” to place him back in ministry. (One can almost hear the echo of the words of Caiaphas here: “…do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” Jn 11:50) Basically, sacrificing one priest’s life in order to protect against any lawsuit that might damage the entire diocese. So now you have a priest–young guy too, still in his 40’s–who is looking at the prospect of having a “desk job” in a diocesan office somewhere for the rest of his life. Very sad.

    Of course the other side of this is the reality that far too many priests (and bishops) in decades past have betrayed the trust that the people have put in us, and we are now reaping the fruits of that betrayal. We have no one to blame but ourselves. And I fear it is going to take not just one, but several generations, before we are able to earn that trust back. This, too, is part of the burden that all of us in the sacred ministry today now carry.

    Finally, a word to all of you of good will out there: support and pray for your seminarians, and for those men who might be considering a priestly vocation. In the midst of the media environment today, where priestly sex abuse cases are paraded before our eyes on the TV, newspapers, internet almost daily, it takes more courage than ever for a young man to answer the call to the priesthood. Pray also for their families–even before the media crisis began, many young men entering seminaries today were doing so without much support from their parents and families (and sadly, sometimes with active opposition from them). I can only imagine that the abuse crisis of recent years has made even more parents disapproving of such a vocation for their sons. So your prayers for them are more needed than ever!

  6. Elly says:

    PadreOP, that is such a sad story.

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