VATICAN, Oct 30, 02 (CWNews.com)—A joint Vatican-US commission, set up to consider changes in a proposed American sex-abuse policy, met for the first time this week, and quickly drafted amendments to the US plan.
The eight-man commission was established on October 18, after the Vatican declined to approve the “Dallas policy” that had been approved by the US bishops’ conference. The commission discussed possible amendments in the American policy that might bring it into line with the Code of Canon Law.
The four American bishops and four Vatican officials who make up the panel met on October 28 and 29 at the Vatican. The two days of meetings apparently produced a mutually acceptable result.
The amendments proposed by the Vatican-US commission will be presented to the entire membership of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at its November meeting in Washington. If those amendments are approved by the American bishops, the new policy would then be sent back to Rome for the “recognitio” that would give it formal approval.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and one of the Vatican representatives on the special commission, emphasized the importance of ensuring a presumption of innocence for priests who are accused of misconduct. He pointed out that many American priests have complained of false accusations, and demanded an opportunity to prove their innocence.