Friday, July 16, 2010

US bishops praise updated Vatican norms dealing with sex abuse :: EWTN News

US bishops praise updated Vatican norms dealing with sex abuse :: EWTN News

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lauded a move by the Vatican to update its norms on dealing with sex abuse, saying they “welcome” the new changes.

On July 15, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith updated the 2001 Apostolic Letter, “The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments” (Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela), to include the new norms which state that the abuse of a mentally disabled adult and the downloading of child pornography are now in the same category as abusing a minor.

Also included in the changes is extending the statute of limitations for sexual abuse to 20 years after the victim turns 18.

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington praised the updates on Thursday, saying that the “Vatican action is a welcome step forward as we deal with the terrible crime and sin of sexual abuse by a cleric.”

“What we read today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is heartening,” said Bishop Cupich, who is also chairman of the USCCB Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.

“The bishops in this country felt the support of the Holy See in 2002 with the establishment of the Essential Norms and we are strengthened even more as the measures outlined in this document build on and go beyond what has been particular law for the Church in the United States since then,” he added.

Bishop Cupich also noted that the “seriousness with which the church views sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric cannot be understated. By putting child sexual abuse by clergy in the same context as the safeguarding of the sacraments, the Church is making it clear that such misconduct violates the core values of our faith and worship.”

“Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notes that the abuse of the mentally impaired, no matter what the person’s age, is horrific. Abuse of someone who cannot defend himself or herself is craven, cowardly behavior.”

“Welcome, too,” he added, “is the recognition that the crime of child pornography damages not just those who pursue it, but any child degraded in the making of it. Child pornography is a degradation of any child of God. A priest’s involvement with it is particularly offensive.”

“The document makes law of measures that have already been in use by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to facilitate handling of cases brought to the Vatican,” the prelate explained. “This is an important step in the continuing effort to achieve justice for innocent people whose trust in a cleric was violated.”

Bishop Cupich concluded that the new modifications further “our strong resolve to do all that is possible to see that children are protected and safe, especially in the Church. We apologize to those who have been hurt in the past. We are doing everything possible to prevent such harm in the future.”

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