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Vatican to encourage more use of canonical penalties

March 03, 2011

The Vatican is plan revisions in the section of the Code of Canon Law that details penalties for various violations, in hopes that bishops will be more inclined to use those sanctions.

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts-- the Vatican body that supervises the Code of Canon Law-- is drafting changes to the section on canonical penalties. Vatican experts are concerned that many bishops feel reluctant to impose canonical sanctions, choosing instead to apply a "pastoral solution" to problems. In revising the penalties, the Vatican hopes to persuade bishops that the use of canonical discipline is itself a proper pastoral approach, and ultimately a show of charity toward the individual who needs disciplinary correction.

In the course of the sex-abuse crisis, many analysts have observed that the Code of Canon Law provided adequate sanctions for priests who molested children, but those sanctions were rarely invoked.


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  • Posted by: Miss Cathy - Mar. 04, 2011 11:09 AM ET USA

    Maybe the real conflict is that they do not understand that Canonical penalties are pastoral, good for the salvation of souls.

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Mar. 04, 2011 8:23 AM ET USA

    It would also be nice to see bishops apply Canon 915 to notorious public sinners such as "Catholic" politicians who support abortion, homosexual "marriage," etc instead of applying "pastoral solutions" which really amount to no solution at all.

  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 03, 2011 10:29 PM ET USA

    The executive Cafeteria (for Bishops) has been thriving for too long. It's high time Rome speaks forcefully and clearly to close that cafeteria.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Mar. 03, 2011 9:16 PM ET USA

    Thank the good Lord for this, as "pastoral solutions" have pretty much brought forth nothing but rotten wormeaten fruit for decades. The Church needs to start penalizing anyone--most especially priests, bishops and politicians--who knowingly and deliberately teach heresy or novelty or fail to uphold Catholic teaching on morals in the public sphere.. The Church would never have fallen to the depths it has if open heretics would have been swiftly and publicy excommunicated.