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Vatican response to Dallas policy due next week

The Vatican's response to the US bishops' "Dallas policy" on sexual abuse will probably be released next week, informed sources report.

According to a report in Catholic World News (CWN) in August, the Vatican will not approve the American policy without substantial changes. According to CWN, Vatican officials had reportedly planned an announcement on the American bishops' plan. But the announcement has been postponed until next week, when leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will be in Rome for a previously scheduled visit.

Bishops Wilton Gregory (pictured) and William Skylstad - the US Bishops' Conference president and vice-president - will travel to Rome for a regular series of meetings with Vatican officials, which they hold twice each year. The Vatican has evidently decided that to withhold a public announcement until the American prelates arrive.

CWN comments that while Vatican officials are unlikely to approve the Dallas policy, they are also anxious to avoid creating further public embarrassment for the US bishops, informed sources say. It argues critics of the US policy have argued that the American bishops adopted their policy in haste, under pressure because of a barrage of negative publicity. The Vatican is expected to require changes that would protect the canonical rights of priests who are accused of misconduct, and provide a more accurate definition of the offenses that would call for removal from priestly ministry.

Several different agencies of the Roman Curia have been involved in the appraisal of the proposed American norms: the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.

Catholic World News

Vatican expected to back US bishops on abuse strategy (25/9/02)
US Conference of Catholic Bishops | Restoring Trust: A Response to Sexual Abuse | Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (US Bishops)
Vatican set to pronounce on US bishops' abuse strategy (23/9/02)
Rome expected to reject Dallas norms (National Catholic Reporter)

9 Oct 2002