Aide: Church Effectively Responds to Grave Crimes

Says Revised Norms Are an Important Step Forward

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 18, 2010 ( A Vatican spokesman is affirming that a revised set of norms released Thursday demonstrate the Church’s effective response to «more grave crimes.»

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, analyzed the contributions of the document outlining the norms for addressing cases of «gravioribus delictis» (grave crimes) during the latest edition of Octava Dies.

The revisions publicized Thursday are an update to the 2001 apostolic letter «Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.» In addition to norms regarding priests who sexually abuse minors, the revision clarifies crimes against the Eucharist, the sacraments of confession and holy orders, and crimes against the faith.

The spokesman explained that «with the publication of the new norms to treat and punish the crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, the Church took an important step forward in dealing with the matter with lasting responses that will have a profound impact.»

He continued, «The laws, which are clear and known, are in fact an indispensable orientation for a large community, like the Catholic Church, which must have its common norms, autonomous with respect to those of the many countries in which she lives.»

Nevertheless, Father Lombardi added, in these countries «the just civil laws must obviously be respected and put in practice by the men of the Church, as by every citizen, even in regard to the crimes of abuse.»

«With the new canonical norms,» he observed, «the procedures can be quicker and more effective, the ecclesiastical tribunals can be more easily equipped with competent lay people, the time for the ruling will be doubled and subsequent repeal always remains possible.»

The priest added that «the gravity of the cases of abuse of mentally handicapped adult persons and of child pornography will be explicitly taken into consideration.»


«Naturally law is necessary but it is not everything,» Father Lombardi stated.

He explained that «there is an educative effort, of formation of the clergy and the personnel that work in the institutions connected with the Church, of information and prevention, of dialogue and personal care in regard to the victims.»

The spokesman noted that this is «an immense field in which the Church has mobilized, with the Pope’s urging, in many countries.»

«For its part, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continues to work to aid the episcopates in formulating consistent and effective local directives,» he said.

Father Lombardi concluded, «The new law is very important, but we know well that our commitment to a more evangelical and purer witness must be long term.»

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