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Hold bishops accountable in abuse cases, says top Vatican prosecutor

February 08, 2012

The Vatican’s top prosecutor in sex-abuse cases has said that bishops must be held accountable for their handling of such cases.

Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the promoter of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, used unusually blunt language in his comments during a Vatican-sponsored symposium on the handling of sex-abuse cases. He denounced a “deadly culture of silence or omerta” and “the deliberate denial of known facts” as grave offenses against justice.

The Vatican official pointed out that in many notorious cases, bishops failed to implement the policies already in place to discipline priests who were guilty of abuse. “When set standards are not followed, this is unacceptable,” he said. “No strategy for the prevention of child abuse will ever work without commitment and accountability," Msgr. Scicluna concluded.

Bishops who failed to discipline abusive clerics, and who covered up evidence of abuse, were guilty of ecclesiastical crimes, the Vatican prosecutor noted. He acknowledged that only the Pope has the authority to discipline bishops, but suggested that the apostolic nuncios in various countries should present evidence to the Holy See, allowing the Pontiff to take such action.

Just as bishops have always had the authority to discipline abusive priests, the Pope has the authority to discipline negligent bishops, Msgr. Scicluna said. What is necessary is not a change in canon law, but “applying what we have,” he said.


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  • Posted by: koinonia - Feb. 09, 2012 6:41 AM ET USA

    Not only have the bishops involved allowed monsters to go unpunished and victims to go on being abused horribly, their actions have increased both scrutiny of and animosity against the Church which will continue for some time. It has set the stage for increased false accusations and investigations, and increased legal expenses to counter such claims. It has led to mind-boggling financial settlements ruinous to dioceses. We must have good men of integrity in charge, animated with Christ's love.

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Feb. 08, 2012 10:52 PM ET USA

    Authority and responsibility go hand in hand.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 08, 2012 5:51 PM ET USA

    "What is necessary is not a change in canon law, but “applying what we have,” he said." Amen to that!!!! Glad to see this approach and attitude!