About time

In a letter dated the 3 May but published on 16 May, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William Cardinal Levada wrote to the bishops of the world saying “In order to facilitate the correct application of these norms and other issues related to the abuse of minors, it seems opportune that each Episcopal Conference prepare Guidelines whose purpose will be to assist the Bishops of the Conference to follow clear and coordinated procedures in dealing with these instances of abuse. Such Guidelines would take into account the concrete situation of the jurisdictions within the Episcopal Conference.”

The letter itself notes that the bishops’ “response will also make provision for the implementation of the appropriate canon law, and, at the same time, allow for the requirements of civil law”. It discusses the role of the priest and says that they “should be formed in an appreciation of chastity and celibacy”. This is an obvious reference to those who claim that it is priestly celibacy is one of the causes of this scandal and is in need of being re-examined at the very least.

The letter continues noting how “Priests are to be well informed of the damage done to victims of clerical sexual abuse”, it thereby implies that some priests are unaware of the horrors of sexual abuse. What is important to note however is that the priests and bishops are mentioned in depth before the laity or indeed those that have suffered.

Crucially however the letter says that ” relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities”, it is a pity however that stronger language was not used is this instance, however belatedly this is now the de facto policy of the Church.

As part of its coverage of the letter the UK Guardian, which is normally scathing in its reporting of the Church, and indeed most religion generally, noted that the Church is “clearly doing all they can” to stamp out this evil.

It was reported that the letter to the various Episcopal Conferences, instructed those “which don’t yet have policies on sex abuse to draft them by May 2012”. Allen continues saying that “While the new guidelines do not impose ‘zero tolerance’ around the world, they do aim to promote a more coordinated global approach. The Vatican guidelines do not, however, impose a single global rule for cooperation with civil authorities, they do not clarify what should happen in the case of a priest who commits abuse in one jurisdiction but relocates to another, and they insist that independent lay review boards ‘cannot substitute’ for the authority of individual bishops.”

The Church has only one path to follow if it wishes to act morally and for the common good, nothing less should be expected.

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3 Responses to “About time”

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    […] this undermines the work that the Church is doing, slowly but surely to right these disgusting […]

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    […] on every foreign trip and well as continued and rightful apologies in addition to issuing new norms that his predecessor never […]

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    […] very definition of sin itself but Pope Benedict himself has begun to reverse this course drawing up global norms for the Church that most have followed, although this worryingly excludes parts of Africa. With […]

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