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Vatican to issue new norms for sex-abuse cases

Catholic World News - July 06, 2010

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will soon issue new rules for the handling of sex-abuse cases, reports John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

The new rules will extend the statute of limitations for sex-abuse cases, and define child pornography as a “grave offense” that requires disciplinary handling by the CDF.

Citing informed Vatican officials, Allen notes that “the revisions are largely a matter of consolidating existing practice, rather than a dramatic new approach to how sex abuse cases are handled.” The new rules will give the force of canon law to procedures that the CDF has followed since 2003, when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the CDF, secured the approval of Pope John Paul II to institute these procedures as approved exceptions from the ordinary norms of canonical procedure. These “exceptions” will now become the norms.

The CDF may later issue new guidelines to episcopal conferences, covering the handling of sex-abuse cases, Allen reports. Those guidelines are not expected to appear soon, however.

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