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Vatican wants 'pontifical secrecy' to be applied to sex abuse cases

The National Catholic Reporter has reported that the US bishops' pledge of full cooperation with civil states could be challenged by the Vatican's resolve to apply "pontifical secrecy", a grade of confidentiality just short of sacramental confession.

Earlier this month, the newspaper obtained previously secret Vatican norms governing sex abuse cases that also state that cases involving sexual abuse of a minor by a priest "must only be pursued in a judicial process".

This conflicts with the norms of the US bishops, which empower bishops to use administrative means to remove a priest from ministry if pursuing the case in a church court proves impossible.

But a consultant for the US bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, however, told the newspaper last week that both potential conflicts are more hypothetical than real.

Much of the Vatican's concern with the original plan adopted by the US bishops at their meeting last June in Dallas centered on this point. The revised norms worked out by a "mixed commission" of Vatican officials and US bishops in late October envision that such cases will be handled in church courts.

National Catholic Reporter

Top FBI woman to battle Church abuse (11/11/02)
Abuse Crisis Expected To Dominate US Catholic Bishops Meeting (AP)
Poll: Catholic church is losing support (New York Times)
Bishops Pick Clergy Abuse Monitor (AP)
Revisions leave unanswered questions (John L. Allen, National Catholic Reporter)
Making the Policy Clear (New York Times)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops | November 2002 Bishops' Meeting | Restoring Trust:
Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse

25 Nov 2002