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German bishop: Lengthen statute of limitations on abuse cases

Catholic World News - March 17, 2010

Surprised by the number of abuse allegations in Bavaria, where over 100 have alleged being physical or sexual abused as youths, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg has called for an increase in the canonical statute of limitations for clerical sex abuse.

The scandal “is bitter and it is hard, but it has to be dealt with,” he said. “This festering blister needs to be opened up and dried out in order for it to heal.”

In calling for an increase in the canonical statute of limitations, Archbishop Schick echoes recent remarks by Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“In the past, that is before 1889, the statue of limitations was something unknown in canon law,” Msgr. Scicluna said in a March 13 interview. “”For the most serious crimes, it was only with the 2001 Motu Proprio that a statute of limitations of ten years was introduced. In accordance with these norms in cases of sexual abuse, the ten years begin from the day on which the minor reaches the age of eighteen.”

“Practice has shown that the limit of ten years is not enough in this kind of case, in which it would be better to return to the earlier system of delicta graviora [more serious crimes] not being subject to the statue of limitations,” he added. “On 7 November 2002, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II granted this dicastery the power to revoke that statue of limitations, case by case following a reasoned request from individual bishops. And this revocation is normally granted.”

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