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Vatican acts to simplify removal of abusive priests

An official of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said on Wednesday that Pope John Paul II has given the Congregation the power in some "very clear, grave cases" to laicize priests who have sexually abused minors without going through an ecclesiastical trial.

Before this, only the pope himself had that power.

The official said the pope has also empowered the congregation to make case-by-case exceptions to church rules requiring only priests with doctorates in canon law to serve as judges in criminal trials of priests accused of abusing minors.

That would mean that deacons, religious or lay people trained in church law could also serve as judges, and some judges may not yet have earned a church law doctorate.

Catholic News Service

Pope Changes Tribunal Rules (Newsday)
Pope makes it easier to fire sexual abusers (Chicago Sun-Times & AP)
Theologian Weigel addresses crisis facing Catholic Church (Daily Princetonian)
[Canadian] Catholic group fights parody: CTV depicted priests luring boys with candy (Canadian Catholic News)


A priest in a NSW prison had his sentence for sexually abusing young boys reduced by two years yesterday.

Fr Vincent Ryan pleaded guilty in May, 1996, to 11 charges of sexually assaulting boys in the Newcastle area and was sentenced to six years' jail.

Further victims later came forward and Ryan, 64, pleaded guilty to another 39 offences and was sentenced to an additional 16 years, making his total sentence 22 years.

The NSW Criminal Court of Appeal yesterday reduced Ryan's sentence to 20 years because of Ryan's good character.

Daily Telegraph (payment required)

Sentence reduced for altar boys' molester (Sydney Morning Herald)
Statement from Bishop Michael Malone re Fr Vincent Ryan (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle media release 30/5/96)
Ryan V The Queen: Paradox And Principle In Sentencing A Paedophilic Priest: Ryan's Case In The High Court (Melbourne University Law Review)
A Question of character (The Parish Pump)

28 Feb 2003