Vatican expected to back US bishops on abuse strategy
The Vatican is leaning toward giving the go-ahead to the US bishops' plan to curb sexual misconduct among clergy, accepting the proposals on an experimental basis, a senior Vatican official said on Monday.
Such a move by the Holy See would give Catholic leaders in the United States time to enact their "one strike and you're out" reform policy without making permanent changes in church law.
In recent weeks the number of reports that the Vatican would reject the policy outright has been growing, embarrassing American bishops as they struggle to deal with the crisis.
The policy "would not receive formal Vatican approval, but nor would it be a rejection," said the official, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Vatican officials have been reviewing the plan since it was adopted at a June meeting of America's bishops, which followed a torrent of sexual misconduct complaints as well as reports of bishops covering them up.
The Holy See is expected to issue its response to the policy on 10 or 11 October, the official said.
SEX ABUSE PANEL ENCOURAGED BY SURVEY RESULTS
The chairman of the US bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse says he is encouraged by the response to a survey taken to assess the implementation of the crucial charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved by US bishops last June.
"We not only got a quick response from dioceses," Archbishop Flynn said in a statement appearing on the bishops' conference web site, "but the information they shared with us shows how committed they are to putting the Charter into effect."
The survey, taken during August at the suggestion of the National Review Board set up by the bishops to help monitor diocesan compliance with the charter, reveals that 92% of dioceses have a written policy on sex abuse available to the public, 80% have procedures for making a complaint readily available, and 68% have an assistance coordinator who aids in the immediate pastoral care of victims of sexual abuse by church personnel.
POLICE APPROACH BBC IN CARDINAL INQUIRY
British police have asked the BBC to provide details of documents relating to an investigation into the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
Murphy-O'Connor is currently the subject of a police inquiry over claims that he covered up the activities of a paedophile priest. A member of the public made a complaint to the police following an investigation by the BBC Radio 4's Today program two years ago.
The allegations relate to the 1980s, when Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was the Bishop of Brighton and Arundel.
A statement released on behalf of the cardinal said: "Before the appearance of media reports this weekend, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor had no knowledge of any formal inquiry concerning moves 20 years ago of a former priest within the diocese of Arundel.
GERMANY'S BISHOPS MEET UNDER PRESSURE
The German Bishop's Conference opens its annual Autumn meeting this week under pressure to do more against pedophile priests. Following the paedophilia scandal in the United States involving more than a hundred priests earlier in the year, the German church has been rocked by its own revelations in recent months.
Numerous cases of paedophilia concerning catholic priests have surfaced, including in Cardinal Karl Lehmann's own diocese. The revelations have caused "massive damage" to the church, said Lehmann (pictured right) during the opening of the conference. Until now, each diocese had its own method of dealing with the problem, which most often involved immediately suspending the priests and then transferring them out of their parishes.
Critics say that's not enough and have pushed for a unified policy against paedophilia priests, among the things the Bishop's Conference is reportedly considering. A six-page document, not available to the public, reportedly provides guidelines for the shape such a policy should take.
The meeting will offer the second attempt at agreeing on effective measures. A Bishop's Conference meeting in April failed to turn up any.
Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (US Bishops)
US Bishops May Get Vatican Support (insidebaltimore.com/AP)
25 Sep 2002