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Vatican releases summary of sex-abuse procedures

Catholic World News - April 12, 2010

The Vatican has issued a short set of guidelines explaining how the Church responds to sex-abuse complaints involving Catholic priests.

The guidelines are a simplified summary of the policies laid out in 2001, giving the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) jurisdiction over sex-abuse complaints. This summary, the Vatican press office notes, "may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists."

The summary of CDF policies stresses that any credible accusation of sexual abuse should be forwarded to the CDF for disciplinary action." Meanwhile the diocesan bishop "always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest," the summary notes. "Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed," the guidelines add. The summary outlines the possible disciplinary responses to sexual abuse, including dismissal from the priesthood.

Commenting on the Vatican's release of the guidelines, a New York Times headline said that the summary was provided "to quell critics." While that analysis may have been accurate, another headline, on a CNN story, was simply inaccurate. "Vatican overhauls sex abuse case procedures," the CNN headline read. The procedures outlined in the short document that was released April 12 do not represent a policy change.

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