Vatican's new rules: Pedophile Priests
This came across the newswire this morning. Looks like they might not bring the information to the police either. But they can dismiss the molestors from the church.
The Vatican (news - web sites) has quietly issued new rules for Roman Catholic churches around the world to deal with pedophile priests, saying they should stand trial in secret ecclesiastical courts.
Pope John Paul (news - web sites) and the Vatican issued two documents on the problem in 2001, but they were not presented at press conferences or made public as is usually the case for such documents.
Instead, they were published in Latin without any fanfare in the latest yearly volume of ``Acta Apostolicae Sedis,'' (Acts of the Apostolic See), the journal of record of the Holy See.
In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church around the world has been rocked by scandals involving pedophile priests, and the Vatican has been grappling with how to control the damage.
In his document, known in Latin as a ``Motu Proprio'' and one of the highest forms of papal directives, the Pope authorized the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to issue guidelines on how to deal with the problem.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation, which deals with matters of faith and morals, sent a letter to all Roman Catholic bishops and heads of religious orders outlining the Vatican's concerns.
``With this letter, we hope that not only will these serious crimes be avoided, but, above all, that the holiness of the clergy and the faithful be protected by the necessary sanctions and by the pastoral care offered by the bishops and others responsible,'' the letter said.
Ratzinger's letter said that if a local bishop or head of a religious order became aware of ``even a hint'' of a case of pedophilia ``he must open an investigation and inform the (Rome) Congregation.''
SECRET CHURCH COURT
A local Church tribunal, made up of priests, should hear the case, which could be referred to the Vatican, but the procedures would be covered by church secrecy.
The letter made no mention of whether a bishop should inform civil authorities if a Church court found a priest guilty.
Last September, a French court handed down a three-month suspended jail term to a Roman Catholic bishop for failing to tell police that a priest in his diocese had admitted having sexually abused children.
The Congregation, the modern successor of the Inquisition, included acts of pedophilia by priests as one of the ``grave offences'' against the Church.
A cover sheet was attached asking the recipients not to divulge the information contained in the letter, Church sources said. The cover sheet was not published in the official record.
Pedophilia scandals, particularly in developed countries, have given the Church a black eye and have cost local dioceses millions of dollars in legal fees and financial settlements.
In a high-profile case in 2000, a U.S. jury found the Catholic diocese of Dallas, Texas, had concealed sexual abuse of boys by a priest and awarded the victims $119.6 million in damages -- the largest award up to then in a sexual abuse case.
The document established a 10-year statute of limitations, beginning on the victim's 18th birthday, in cases of pedophilia.
Priests found guilty of pedophilia can be dismissed from the Church and stripped of their priestly functions.
GopherWhy shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Just read that a little while ago....no mention of reporting to civil authorities.
See, all organized religion is alike!