Clerical sex abuse conference: A journey towards hope

Towards Healing and Renewal the conference on clerical sexual abuse organized by the Gregorian University in Rome, and actively supported by the Vatican, has been the subject of coverage across the Catholic world and beyond.

The prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) recently addressed the delegates from across the world:

“The past decade has revealed, on the one hand, the inadequacy of an exclusively canonical (or canon law) response to this tragedy, and on the other, the necessity of a truly multi-faceted response.”

The role of the Vatican in general and the CDF in particular, is sometimes in need of clarifying, as Dr Pravin Thevathasan says in his report for CTS, The Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis:

“It is important to note two points when referring to current-day procedures within the Church for dealing with sexual abuse:

(1) The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) did not have jurisdiction over sexual abuse cases until 2001.

(2) Nothing in canon law prohibits an alleged case being reported to the police. But canon law does give a wide range of discretion to individual bishops who have to operate in a variety of countries with very different legal systems For example, internal rules within the Church in England and Wales oblige bishops to report to the police or social services all allegations of abuse.

The Church does not see canon law as replacing or superseding civil or criminal law.”

Explaining and reiterating these things in simple terms as the report does, can surely help in the process of healing that the Holy Father has called for.

Cardinal William Levada concldued:

“It bears repeating that the abusers are a tiny minority of an otherwise faithful, committed clergy. Nevertheless, this tiny minority has done great harm to victims, and to the Church’s mission of bringing Christ’s love to the world of today.”

The Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis is available from the CTS priced £2.50


Of related interest:

Norms Concerning the Most Serious Crimes – The Norms of Canon Law dealing with crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy have been published here in a comprehensive and updated form, in a document.
Safeguarding with Confidence – The Cumberlege Commission believes that much progress has been made since Lord Nolan reported, and that the Church is now a safer place; however, it states that there remains room for improvement, and this report makes a number of recommendations
Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy – This document from the Congregation for the Clergy is a call to rediscover the indispensible value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and of Spiritual direction, as the vital tools needed for all Christians to answer the call to holiness.

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