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Paedophilia – Noncompliant bishops will be tried in the Vatican

June 17, 2015 ·  By Iacopo Scaramuzzi, Vatican City (Vatican Insider via CNUA) for vaticaninsider.lastampa.it

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Francis has decided that “abuse of office” by bishops who do not follow up complaints about children being sexually abused by priests, is a canonical offence. He is also setting up a related section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Mary Collins, a former clerical sex abuse victim is glad about the decision The Pope has approved a proposal to penalise “abuse of office” by bishops in cases where there are reports of clerical sex abuse against children, setting out a new Vatican procedure for dealing with this kind of offence and boosting the establishment of a new Judicial Section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on paedophilia cases. An secretary will also be appointed ad hoc to assist the Prefect. Francis himself established this during the course of the tenth meeting of the 9-member Council of Cardinals (C9) that is assisting the Pope with the reform of the Roman Curia and the government of the Church, held between Monday and today in St. Martha’s House.

One of the things that is new is the green light given for the “gradual integration” of Vatican mass media over a period of four years. This still needs to be looked into in more detail, but keeping staff and with a view to create a new super-dicastery in charge of communication.

On Monday afternoon, the C9 “heard a speech by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley on the proposal to be presented to the Holy Father regarding the abuse of office by bishops, a proposal prepared by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors” headed by the Archbishop of Boston himself, the Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said in a briefing, underlining that today’s decision is in line with what the body itself said in recent months about the importance of accountability, the need, that is, for bishops to take responsibility in such cases. Cardinal O’Malley’s speech includes a proposal on the subject of reported incidents of clerical sex abuse against vulnerable adults and children. The Capuchin friar made five concrete proposals at the end of his speech:

Firstly, “because the competence to receive and investigate complaints of the episcopal abuse of office belongs to the Congregations for Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, or Oriental Churches, all complaints are to be reported to the appropriate Congregation.”

Secondly, for “the Holy Father to mandate the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors.”

Thirdly, for “the Holy Father to authorise the institution of a new Judicial Section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and appointment of stable personnel to undertake service in the Tribunal. The implementation of this decision would follow consultation with the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Fourthly, for “the Holy Father to appoint a Secretary to assist the Prefect with the Tribunal. The Secretary will have responsibility for the new Judicial Section and the personnel of the Section will also be available to the Prefect for penal processes regarding the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy. This appointment will also follow the consultation with the Prefect of the Congregation.” Fifthly, for “the Holy Father to establish a five-year period for further development of these proposals and for completing a formal evaluation of their effectiveness.”

The Council of Cardinals “agreed unanimously on these proposals and resolved that they be submitted to the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The Holy Father approved the proposals and authorized that sufficient resources will be provided for this purpose,” the Pope said stressing that this should strengthen the judicial structure.

The Pope will presumably accept the decisions taken by the judicial body regarding bishops: “If the Pope says that the task of making a ruling lies with the Tribunal, then he will accept the ruling of the Tribunal handling the case,” Fr. Lombardi said in response to a question. In terms of the retroactivity of the law, the Vatican spokesman said that “the Code of Canon Law already contains the elements” for these kinds of offenses, so the issue of episcopal accountability does not “spring out of nowhere”. However, with the new proposal approved by the Pope “a procedure has been defined for dealing with such cases”.

Mary Collins, an Irish member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, who was abused by a paedophile priest as a child and visited Rome in recent days, tweeted: “Very pleased the Pope has approved the Commission’s proposal on accountability.”

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