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Pope’s policies seen weakening prosecution of sex-abuse cases

January 03, 2017

Pope Francis is preparing to roll back some of the reforms calling for tough treatment of priests accused of sexual abuse, reports Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week.

Dougherty reports that the Pope has discussed the possibility of taking the responsibility for sex-abuse prosecution away from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and having the cases handled by another Vatican office—presumably because the CDF is seen as relentless in its attitude toward abusive priests. The Pope reportedly discussed this possibility in December with the Council of Cardinals, although that conversation was not mentioned in public reports on the meeting.

Pope Francis has made numerous tough statements against clerical abuse, most recently in his message to the world’s bishops on December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents. Yet he has also advocated for compassionate treatment of fallen priests, and defended prelates who have been charged with negligence in handling abuse complaints. In one noteworthy case, the Pope reversed a CDF decision laicizing a notorious Italian priest—who was later convicted of multiple charges in a civil court.

Dougherty writes that there are growing suspicions in Rome that the Pope’s allies receive special treatment, and predicts that a new scandal could erupt if the Pope pursues his policies.

 
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