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Revisions leave US bishops' sexual abuse norms, charter intact

All key provisions of the US bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People are left intact by the recently crafted revisions in the proposed legal norms to implement the charter.

Contrary to widely reported speculation that the revisions would soften or weaken the bishops' actions, the revised version at several points strengthens the hand of a bishop dealing with alleged sexual abuse by one of his priests or deacons.

Especially important in light of controversies earlier this year over the applicability of the charter to ordained men in religious orders is a new footnote in the revised document.

The revisions were worked out during a meeting in Rome last week of four representatives of the US bishops and four top Vatican officials. The US bishops, who approved an earlier version of the norms in June, are to debate and vote on the revised version when they meet in Washington next week.

One of the major controversies remaining since the bishops adopted the charter at their June meeting in Dallas has been how to reconcile the church's statute of limitations on prosecuting crimes with the bishops' commitment to remove permanently from ministry any priest found to have sexually abused a child.

The statute of limitations says a cleric cannot be tried for a sexual crime against a minor unless the case is initiated within 10 years after the victim turns 18. The norms the bishops passed in June did not address that problem directly, although the bishops committed themselves to removing any priest who has been found to have abused a child, regardless of when it occurred.

Catholic News Service

Victims Blast Church Sex Abuse Plan (AP)
US Crisis Linked to Lack of Formation in the Faith (Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University - Zenit)


The Vatican said yesterday it is drafting new guidelines for accepting candidates for the priesthood that will address the question of whether gays should be barred.

The brief statement by the Vatican's Press Office gave no indication what the conclusion may be despite news reports that the document will include directives against the admission of homosexuals.

Vatican congregations have been studying the issue for several years, but the question has received renewed attention after the clerical sex abuse scandal in the United States.

Most of the victims of molestation by priests have been adolescent boys. Experts on sex offenders say there is no credible evidence that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to abuse children, but several church leaders have argued that gay clergy are to blame for the scandal.

The Press Office said the Congregation for Catholic Education has begun drafting the document, but no publication date has been set.


Vatican prepares draft directives against admitting gays as priests (10/10/02)
US priest at Vatican says gay men should not be ordained (23/9/02)

6 Nov 2002