- The US bishops, meeting in Dallas, enacted a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that said any diocese ‘‘will report to the public authorities any allegation of sexual abuse of a person who is currently a minor.’’ But revisions to the policy proposed by the special commission and released yesterday do away with that mandate.
Actually, what the revised norms do is say that the diocese must comply with all state laws. If a state doesn’t require it, then the victims rights adovcates should be lobbying the legislature to change the law. And the policy does not prevent any victim from reporting the crime himself. In fact, that’s the first place these people should be going in any case, not to the bishop. Call the cops and let the cops call the diocese.
- Critics of the policy revisions released yesterday also pointed to a provision that would let stand – unless a bishop chooses to appeal to the Vatican for a waiver – a canon law requirement that claims of clergy sexual abuse of a minor be made before an alleged victim reaches 28 years of age. Some canon law specialists said the provision left unclear whether a bishop would be able to suspend a priest faced with an accusation falling outside the statute while waiting for permission to override it.
The revised norms make it clear that a bishop retains all his rights to move priests out of parishes. Removing his faculties for ministry would be more difficult, but at least being able to remove him from the parish should be enough.
- Victims of clergy sexual abuse find the notion of a statute of limitations of any kind objectionable, contending that many of those who suffer sexual molestations are psychologically ill-equipped to report the abuse until they reach midlife.
On the other hand, proving allegations of abuse from sixty years ago is difficult. But if the evidence is there, the Vatican has allowed a process for that limitation to be lifted.