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'A negative act necessarily must be condemned:' Vatican revising law on abuse penalties

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/25/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Vatican aims to make language much clearer in the instances of sexual misconduct

In regards to canonical law regarding acts of sexual misconduct, according to law ended up being too vague, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta says, church sanctions were being applied so haphazardly that the church appeared to be divided. In response, the Vatican is now clarifying rules about sexual abuse that can be easily understood.

'We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,' the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, told newspaper reporters.

"We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply," the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, told newspaper reporters.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/25/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Sexual misconduct, canonical law, stringent, discipline


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Vatican is revising a section of the Code of Canon Law to make norms and procedures clearer and by extension more effective.

"We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply," the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, told newspaper reporters.

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The cardinal said his office has been working since 2008 to revise "Book VI: Sanctions in the Church," a section of the Code of Canon Law.

The penalties and punishments offered by church law should be applied, he said.

"In the face of a negative action, which harms the good of a person and therefore the good of the church, penal law expects a reaction, that is the pastor inflicting a canonical penalty," the cardinal said.

If a bishop does not react by imposing a punishment on a priest guilty of the crime of sexual abuse, he said, "in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed. A negative act necessarily must be condemned; it requires a reaction."

Clearly there is already church law with procedures and penalties for effectively dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse. At the same time, the Cardinal said, the bishop must recognize that the infliction of a penalty is ultimately for the good of the abuser as well. Penalties in canon law are designed to "encourage the conversion of those who commit crimes."

Bishop Arrieta, council secretary, also spoke of the work of revising that section of canon law, in an interview that was conducted last year.

Arrieta had said the current Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1983, was written with such an emphasis on the role of the individual bishop in his local diocese that each bishop bore the full weight of deciding when and how to intervene and what sort of sanction or punishment to impose on the guilty.

The two chief concerns in the revised section, as in all church law, Bishop Arrieta said, are "to safeguard the truth and protect the dignity of persons."

Rules, by necessity, must become more stringent -- "if someone does this, he must be punished," the bishop said. While it withdraws the discretionary power of the bishop in certain cases, he said, "It is for the good of the bishop."

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