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Vatican plans to clarify language of canon law regarding abuse penalties

Catholic World News - July 24, 2014

The president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has revealed that the Vatican plans to revise the Code of Canon Law, to make sections involving the treatment of clerical abuse “more accessible, more understandable, and easier for bishops to apply.”

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the president of the body, told L’Osservatore Romano that the Pontifical Council has been working on revised norms since 2008. The objective, he indicated, is to have clear canons that bishops will be expected to enforce. He expressed concern that in the past, bishops have not invoked the disciplinary penalties stipulated by canon law.

"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," the cardinal said; "that is, the pastor inflicting a canonical penalty."

Cardinal Coccopalmerio said that the faithful have a right to expect that their bishops will apply the relevant disciplinary sanctions in cases of abuse. When bishops fail to do so, he remarked, “in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed.”

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  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jul. 26, 2014 1:09 PM ET USA

    Clarifying Canon Law! Anyone except a felon dead or would act in defense of the abused. We know the Church is treading water until these bishops are dead or senile,to shelter them from criminal punishment.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jul. 24, 2014 9:39 PM ET USA

    It is unbelievable that Bishops can't understand canon law and that they don't already know that they are required to follow it. It is equally unbelievable that so far it has taken six years and they still aren't finished clarifying this one part of canon law. No wonder people don't think the church is taking this seriously.

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