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Rome Reports

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The Vatican prepares new measures to combat sex abuse

The measures will be part of the Church’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy on sex abuse. The goal is to implement the norms adopted by the Catholic Church in the U.S. in 2002, world wide. Those measures have been credited with decreasing the number of new sex abuse cases. They’ve also helped to teach 6 million students how to recognize and report abuse and are the reason why anyone who works with children in the Church must go through a background check first. Similar measures have been implemented in the United Kingdom and will soon be adopted in Germany and Austria. According to the Italian press, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, the Secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, is in charge of crafting the new rules. The new rules will include a fast path to defrock priests guilty of abuse. The rules will also include temporarily suspending priests who are under investigation. Reporting cases to law enforcement will also be mandatory along with the handing over of any documents needed for the investigation. But unlike civil law, the Church will not establish a statue of limitations, therefore guilty priests can be punished even after many years have gone by since they committed the crimes. But to get to the root of the problem, seminarians will face a more rigorous screening process which will include psychological tests on their affectivity and human maturity. The new measures are also intended for all Episcopal conferences to take responsibility in preventing and combating abuse. The Vatican will be in charge of making sure all bishops follow the rules, and for those who cover up cases or don’t implement the rules in a timely manner, they will be held accountable. The new rules will be an addition to the ones that are already in place to fight sex abuse. Currently the disciplinary department of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in charge of investigating severe cases, but the department is only made up of 10 people. Over the last 9 years, they’ve looked into 3,000 cases involving priests who allegedly committed crimes during the last 50 years. While the clean up in the Church is moving forward, the number of reported cases is declining. In the past two years, 250 cases were reported annually world wide. But there could actually be more since the disciplinary department says in some countries like Italy, a “culture of silence” still exists. A culture, the Church hopes fades into history.PVB/MCBN