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Vatican likely to reject US Bishops' Dallas Plan

The Vatican will not grant approval to the norms adopted by the US bishops' conference for the discipline of sexual offenders, informed sources have told Catholic World News.

The US bishops' policies, adopted during a June meeting in Dallas, will require substantial changes before they can win the necessary approval from Rome, sources say.

CWN comments that if the Vatican does refuse to approve the US bishops' proposal in its current form, that decision will be motivated not by any desire to protect priests who are guilty of sexual abuse, but by Rome's insistence that the American bishops must use their own pastoral authority-- rather than a broad administrative approach-- to discipline abusive priests.

Without Vatican approval, the US bishops' proposals would not carry the authority of canon law. Individual bishops would be free to devise their own policies-- which could mirror the provisions of the Dallas proposal-- to govern the actions of their own dioceses.

At the Dallas meeting, and in subsequent public statements, spokesmen for the US bishops have assured reporters that the Vatican was likely to grant speedy approval for the US bishops' proposals, recognizing the importance of an aggressive national response to the sex-abuse scandal.

However, critics of the Dallas plan have pointed to rising concerns about some elements of the policy, raising serious questions about the fairness of the policy and the "due process" rights of priests who are accused of misconduct. Critics have also questioned whether some aspects of the proposed American policy might be in conflict with the Code of Canon Law.

Vatican may ease bishops' 1-strike rule (Dallas Morning News)


15 Aug 2002