Action Alert!

Advance warning: inaccurate news reports coming soon

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 08, 2010

Be prepared.

Sometime in the next few days the Vatican is expected to release new norms for the handling of sex-abuse complaints. Dozens of news reports will undoubtedly follow, saying that the Vatican has changed policies in response to public pressure. Those reports will be wrong.

The norms are changing. The policies are not. 

According to reports that have leaked extensively this week, the Vatican will change a few norms of canon law, bringing the law into conformity with the policies already in use by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To date these policies have been authorized--first by Pope John Paul II, then by Benedict XVI--as allowable exceptions to the canonical rules. Now they will become the rules.

So--unless the leaked reports are all wrong--the rules will change, but not practices of the CDF. 

It's not that hard to understand, if you pay a bit of attention to the details. But recently reporters have been rushing into print without making the effort to understand Church law.

The norms are changing. The policies are not.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Nov. 16, 2017 7:23 PM ET USA

    As I understand it, there are hypothetical, albeit unlikely, uses for nuclear weapons other than for war--for example, deflecting an earth-bound asteroid. Again, highly unlikely but still within the realm of possibility.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Nov. 15, 2017 12:28 AM ET USA

    Pope Francis has his hands full trying to run the church, an area where he is supposed to have some competence. However, international defense in the nuclear age is not an area where he has any more competence than most of us and he has less competence than many people in the international arena.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Nov. 14, 2017 8:05 PM ET USA

    Nuclear weapons are dangerous: Older weapon designs could detonate in an accident or if stolen by terrorists; unstable nuclear states could attack; we've nearly had at least 3 accidental world-ending wars with Russia. They are also stabilizing. No nuclear state has ever attacked another in a conventional war. The stakes are too high. It is not hyperbole to say nuclear weapons prevented WW3 to this point. Pakistan and India are at peace, and Israel and its neighbors. This issue is complicated.

  • Posted by: grateful1 - Nov. 14, 2017 7:46 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis is no doubt a profoundly holy man. But he would be an even holier one if he humbly resisted the temptation to pontificate (I use that word advisedly) on matters political, economic, and scientific -- about which he is profoundly ignorant.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 14, 2017 12:56 PM ET USA

    It's O.K.. He will be ignored. We're safe. Except just maybe from North Korea.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 14, 2017 12:55 PM ET USA

    As an SDI scientist, my position on having and using the best tools of self-defense possible seems at odds with some of Pope Francis' views on the priority of human life under the circumstances of war. However, my larger concern right now is his notion of "the development of human rights." What does it mean to "develop" human rights? Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution _recognize_ human rights as transcendent to any human authority, as does the Church. How do you improve upon God?

  • Posted by: garedawg - Nov. 14, 2017 1:04 AM ET USA

    So if using nukes is a sin, does fooling your enemy into thinking that you might commit the above-mentioned sin also constitute a sin? That's a tough one.

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 14, 2017 12:20 AM ET USA

    I could never grasp the logic behind "Gun Free Zone" signs on church buildings. No one has the right to attack, but everyone has the right to defend himself and his family, and yet those signs attempt to equally restrict the potential attackers and the attacked victims. Given the fact that no slogan was ever able to deter armed evildoers, and good people are most likely to obey signs on a church, they only make church congregations more vulnerable. The same is true on a large, national scale.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Nov. 13, 2017 7:02 PM ET USA

    It would have made sense for the leader of the Catholic Church to call upon Catholics to pray for God's help in putting the nuclear genie back into the bottle. Did Francis do this? I have not heard. Has the Church forgotten how to plead for God's help or do we no longer think that God will help us? Considering how the Bishops seem to lean towards political help versus Divine it appears that our leadership is losing or has lost the faith. God help us!