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Vatican views British church hardline on paedophilia as test-case

Vatican officials have welcomed British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's "courageous initiative" in setting up a review on the problem of paedophile priests, adding that it could become a model for other Catholic authorities seeking to address "this grave issue".

The London Times reports that sources in the Vatican have said that the Nolan commitee's preliminary findings would be "studied with interest".

"If the recommendations prove successful they could be applied elsewhere," one official told the paper. "This is pioneering work in a difficult area." Vatican watchers said the Holy See had been impressed by the device of a committee chaired by a distinguished lay Catholic whose integrity and independence could not be questioned but who was sympathetic to the Church's problems.

Last month the Vatican said it was already monitoring the problem of sexual abuse by priests, including paedophilia and the rape of nuns. This came after a report by senior members of female religious congregations testifying to hundreds of cases in which Catholic male clergy had "exploited their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favours from religious women".

London Times