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I will use this thread to post short texts from the Magisterium of Benedict XVI that one needs to refer to from time to time, long after it is no longer the focus of the news[ or useful references about recurrent issues.


First, a perspective on the actual extent of the problem in the United States can be derived from this brief summary of the report commissioned by the American bishops in 2002. The figures probably reflect an accurate measure of the problem even in the countries most afflicted by the scourge of priestly pedophiles::


The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors
by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States -


the study commissioned in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops "to provide the first-ever complete accounting, or census, of the number of priests, deacons and religious against whom allegations of child sexual abuse were made and of the incidents alleged to have occurred between 1950-2002."

The study was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminology in New York City. The full report can be found on
usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

Just some general data from the report:

195 dioceses and 140 religious communities were surveyed;
7 of the dioceses and 30 of the communities did not respond to the survey.

From the responses, a total of 4,392 priests, deacons and religious were identified to have been accused of such offenses.

They represented 3-6% of priests in the dioceses and 1-3% in the communities. The overall percentage of accused in terms of all priests and religious in the US was 4%.


75% of the alleged incidents took place between 1960-1984.

A report to the police resulted in an investigation in almost all cases. 384 of the 4,392 were criminally charged. Overall only 8.7% of those accused ended up being charged.

Of the 384 charged, 252 were convicted - a 66% conviction rate. Some of them had more than one conviction on different counts. Those convicted represented only 5.7% of the total that had been accused. [That number is very significant, because it indicates that some 94% of accusations were not actionable. (It tells us that the overwhelming majority of accusations cannot stand up enough to be prosecuted.]

As of 2002 (before all the massive costs since then imposed by subsequent court rulings), the cost to the dioceses and communities between 1950-2002 was estimated at about $573 million - $501 million for victim compensation and treatment, and the rest for priest treatment and legal fees.

Insurance paid about $289 million of the costs for victim compensation and treatment.



And the Irish situation at a glance:

WHAT THE IRISH GOVERNMENT REPORTS
TELL US ABOUT THE ABUSE SITUATION
IN IRELAND FROM 1962-2004:
An informal summary


There were actually three Irish government reports into abuses committed by priests and religious in Ireland.

All three reports 1)gathered information about complaints and the names of the alleged offenders, and 2) documented the response of the dioceses concerned to such abuses.

But investigation and substantiation of the charges was not part of their mandate, so their numbers only records the number of complaints made and the number and names of the accused.



The Ferns Report, 2005

It investigated abuses committed by priests and religious in the Diocese of Ferns. It has a current population of about 100,000, and 120 priests and religious serving the diocese. From 1962-2002 (40 years), 'more than 100 complaints' - which usually means over 100 but less than 110 - were presented against 21 priests, 6 of whom had been dead by the time they were accused.

If we assume that each of the complaints represents a different victim, 100 victims in a population of 100,000 does not seem 'significant', but 21 priests out of 120, if we assume the same number of priests over the 40-year study period, and that all 21 named priests were guilty of at least one offense, that's a pretty high rate of offenders - one-sixth of all priests in the diocese.

But the worst offense in the diocese was the attitude of its earlier bishops who were documented to be more concerned with the reputation of their priests than about the fact that they offended nor about making things right for the victims.

The report does acknowledge that the bishops' attitudes changed over the 40-year period as more information about pedophilia became available.


The Ryan Report, May 2009

This studied the record between 1914-2000 of 200 Catholic schools and reformatories run by Irish religious orders. Obviously because of age considerations (who would still be alive and able to take part), the study focused on the years between 1965-2000, during which these institutions were responsible for 25,000 wards.

1500 complaints were received, with 800 offenders named, but the offenders also included civilian personnel of the schools, not just priests. And of the 1500 complaints, only 800 abusers were named (so each abuser would have had to have offended at least twice).

Of the abuses, 391 were sexual (262 boys, 128 girls), 857 were physical (beatings, corporal punishment), and the rest, psychological abuse or neglect.

Not that other kinds of abuse are any less significant, but since the focus of all the news reports has been sexual abuse, we are left with 391 complaints of sexual abuse in a 35-year period.


The Murphy Report, November 2009

This is the Report that sparked all that outrage in the media. It looked at alleged sexual abuses committed by priests and religious in the Archdiocese of Dublin from the 1940s to 2004, at which time, altogether 2,800 priests and religious served in the archdiocese. During that period, 102 priests/religious were named in complaints received by the Commission.

Again because of age considerations, the investigation focused on the period from 1975 to 2004, during which 320 complaints were presented against 46 priests, of which 11 had confessed or been convicted, 1 was clearly a case of false accusation, and two were merely 'suspected' but not accused.

In a 30-year period, 320 complaints averages to 10.7 annually, committed by 43 priests (excluding the falsely accused one and the merely 'suspect'). out of a total clerical population of 2800 - and we arrive at a 1.5% rate of alleged offenses or accusations much lower than what it was in the United States.

If we add together the complaints reported by the three government commissions in Ireland, we get a total of 100 from Ferns + 391 in the schools + 320 in Dublin = 811 complaints, not all of them necessarily true - alleged to have occurred between 1965-2004, over a 40-year period. 811 complaints in 40 years averages to about 20 complaints a year,

In other words, the media has simply been allowed to paint the sex abuse scandal as much much bigger than it actually is, and no one has bothered all these months to point it out. And that is the reason none of the reports ever mentions figures - because the figures show how much they have exaggerated the case against the Church.

The lower numbers do not in any way excuse what the rotten 1.5% of priests and religious have done, but to deliberately give the impression that 'thousands' have been victimized is just wrong and dishonest.




This thread is occasioned by the Holy Father's historic and unprecedented pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, but I will also post Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter, and Benedict's letter to the bishops of the world from last year. Not to mention the 2001 documents (motu proprio and implementing letter) that have to do with the sex abuse cases. As you know, other pertinent documents to that issue are now on the new Vatican website.


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I have decided to post the entire letter here as well. It is not, after all, the length of an encyclical!


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1. Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious.

I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation.

Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made and lessons learned, and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place. Our discussions were frank and constructive.

I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.

2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country, I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination.

No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God’s grace.

At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.

Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember “the rock from which you were hewn” (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal.

It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ.

3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like Saint Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of medieval monastic culture.

The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe.

Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.

From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances.

Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel.

After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century.

The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world.

They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.

In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone – a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle – who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values.

All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected.

Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel.

The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it.

In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.


Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found.

Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include:
- Inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life;
- Insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates;
- A tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and
- A misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person.

Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing.

5. On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them.

Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, “to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes” (Address to the Bishops of Ireland, 28 October 2006).

With this Letter, I wish to exhort all of you, as God’s people in Ireland, to reflect on the wounds inflicted on Christ’s body, the sometimes painful remedies needed to bind and heal them, and the need for unity, charity and mutual support in the long-term process of restoration and ecclesial renewal.

I now turn to you with words that come from my heart, and I wish to speak to each of you individually and to all of you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

6. To the victims of abuse and their families
You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.

Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings.

It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.

At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church.

I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope.

I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said.

I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.


7. To priests and religious who have abused children
You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals.

You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions.

Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.

I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment.

By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil.

At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.


8. To parents
You have been deeply shocked to learn of the terrible things that took place in what ought to be the safest and most secure environment of all.

In today’s world it is not easy to build a home and to bring up children. They deserve to grow up in security, loved and cherished, with a strong sense of their identity and worth.

They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person, to be inspired by the truth of our Catholic faith and to learn ways of behaving and acting that lead to healthy self-esteem and lasting happiness.

This noble but demanding task is entrusted in the first place to you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments.

As you carry out your vital responsibilities, be assured that I remain close to you and I offer you the support of my prayers.


9. To the children and young people of Ireland
I wish to offer you a particular word of encouragement. Your experience of the Church is very different from that of your parents and grandparents. The world has changed greatly since they were your age.

Yet all people, in every generation, are called to travel the same path through life, whatever their circumstances may be. We are all scandalized by the sins and failures of some of the Church's members, particularly those who were chosen especially to guide and serve young people.

But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). He loves you and he has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with him within the communion of his Church, for he will never betray your trust!

He alone can satisfy your deepest longings and give your lives their fullest meaning by directing them to the service of others. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his goodness, and shelter the flame of faith in your heart.

Together with your fellow Catholics in Ireland, I look to you to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to bring your much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved Church.


10. To the priests and religious of Ireland
All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse.

In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned.

I am also aware that in some people’s eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others.

At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of his Church and your confidence in the Gospel's promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (cf. Rom 5:20).

I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors. Yet, it is essential that you cooperate closely with those in authority and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective.

Above all, I urge you to become ever more clearly men and women of prayer, courageously following the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation. In this way, the Church in Ireland will draw new life and vitality from your witness to the Lord's redeeming power made visible in your lives.


11. To my brother bishops
It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations.

I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness.

I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence.

Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters.

It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.

Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives.
This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal.

The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of Saint Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ
(cf. Sermon 340, 1).

I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock.

In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests. Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.

The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Church’s life and mission.

This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.


12. To all the faithful of Ireland
A young person’s experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community.

In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition.

In our increasingly secularized society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church.

In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith.

By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.

13. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is out of deep concern for all of you at this painful time in which the fragility of the human condition has been so starkly revealed that I have wished to offer these words of encouragement and support.

I hope that you will receive them as a sign of my spiritual closeness and my confidence in your ability to respond to the challenges of the present hour by drawing renewed inspiration and strength from Ireland’s noble traditions of fidelity to the Gospel, perseverance in the faith and steadfastness in the pursuit of holiness.

In solidarity with all of you, I am praying earnestly that, by God’s grace, the wounds afflicting so many individuals and families may be healed and that the Church in Ireland may experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal.

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country.

I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.

I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part.

Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations.

Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.

In this Year for Priests, I commend to you most particularly the figure of Saint John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood.

“The priest”, he wrote, “holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods.”

The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.”

Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organizing the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments.

Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it.

While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.

I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalized and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church.

As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen.

With great affection and unswerving confidence in God’s promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010
on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph


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Here is the prayer with which the Holy Father ends the pastoral letter.



Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness,
holiness and generous service to society.
Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.
May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.
Amen.



[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/02/2011 22.25]
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In January 2006, I started a thread called REFERENCES in the PRF not long after the 2005 BBC documentary first aired and after a flurry of news items in the US press on frivolous lawsuits trying to implicate the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI in sex abuse cases. My premise then was this:


Since this matter is bound to be dredged up now and then, and misrepresented by MSM, as it has always been, to place Joseph Ratzinger and the Church in the worst light possible, I thought it would be good to create this corner to which you may run for reference the next time you see one of those misleading stories.

There are two basic documents:
1. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter dated April 30, 2001, "by which are promulgated Norms
concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", and
2. The letter from the CDF signed by Cardinal Ratzinger and sent May 11, 2001 "by mandate of
the supreme Pontiff to all the bishops of the Catholic Church..." to clarify the procedure
for dealing with clerical offenses of the type referred to in the Pope's letter, in the hope
"not only that more grave delicts will be totally avoided, but especially that ordinaries and
hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the
faithful even through necessary sanctions."

The new Vatican resource site, www.resource.va, still does not have either of these documents posted in any language, not even the Latin original. An official Italian translation of both was published for the first time in L'Osservatore Romano yesterday, 3/20/10.

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As it is quite short, I am reproducing Cardinal Ratzinger's letter first, in an English translation
of the original Latin, from

opusbonosacerdotii.org/ad_exsequendam_ecclesiasticam_l...
This is the link to the original document:
www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20010518_epistula_graviora%20delicta...



LETTER TO ALL BISHOPS,
ORDINARIES AND HIERARCHS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
CONCERNING THE GRAVE DELICTS RESERVED
TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH



In order to fulfill the ecclesiastical law, which states in Article 52 of the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, "[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against faith and more grave delicts both against morals and committed in the celebration of the sacraments which have been reported to it and, if necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law,"(1) it was necessary first to define the method of proceeding in delicts against the faith: This was accomplished through the norms titled Agendi Ratio in Doctrinarum Examine, ratified and confirmed by the supreme pontiff, Pope John Paul II, together with Articles 28-29 approved in forma specifica.(2)

At approximately the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, through an ad hoc commission established, devoted itself to a diligent study of the canons on delicts both of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in order to determine "more grave delicts both against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments" and in order to make special procedural norms "to declare or impose canonical sanctions," because the instruction Crimen Sollicitationis, issued by the supreme sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16, 1962,(3) in force until now, was to be reviewed when the new canonical codes were promulgated.

Having carefully considered opinions and having made the appropriate consultations, the work of the commission finally was completed. The fathers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined the commission's work carefully and submitted to the supreme pontiff conclusions on the determination of more grave delicts and the manner of proceeding to declare or impose sanctions, with the exclusive competence in this of the apostolic tribunal of this congregation remaining firm. All these things, approved by the supreme pontiff himself, were confirmed and promulgated by the apostolic letter given motu proprio beginning with the words Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.

The more grave delicts both in the celebration of the sacraments and against morals reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

-Delicts against the sanctity of the most august eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments, namely:

1. Taking or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose or throwing them away.(4)

2. Attempting the liturgical action of the eucharistic sacrifice or simulating the same.(5)

3. Forbidden concelebration of the eucharistic sacrifice with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have apostolic succession and do not recognize the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.(6)

4. Consecrating for a sacrilegious purpose one matter without the other in the eucharistic celebration or even both outside a eucharistic celebration.(7)

-Delicts against the sanctity of the sacrament of penance, namely:

1. Absolution of an accomplice in sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue.(8)

2. Solicitation in the act, on the occasion or under the pretext of confession, to sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue, if it is directed to sin with the confessor himself.(9)

3. Direct violation of the sacramental seal.(10)

-A delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of 18 years.

Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition, are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed ahead through his own tribunal. The right of appealing against a sentence of the first instance, whether on the part of the party or the party's legal representative, or on the part of the promoter of justice, solely remains valid only to the supreme tribunal of this congregation.

It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

In tribunals established by ordinaries or hierarchs, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests. When the trial in the tribunal is finished in any fashion, all the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

All tribunals of the Latin church and the Eastern Catholic churches are bound to observe the canons on delicts and penalties, and also on the penal process of both codes respectively, together with the special norms which are transmitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for an individual case and which are to be executed entirely.

Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.

Through this letter, sent by mandate of the supreme pontiff to all the bishops of the Catholic Church, to superiors general of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right, and to other interested ordinaries and hierarchs, it is hoped not only that more grave delicts will be entirely avoided, but especially that ordinaries and hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the faithful even through necessary sanctions.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Prefect

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, SDB
Secretary





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Here is John Paul's Apostolic Letter of April 30, 2001, to which Cardinal Ratzinger's letter
was an administrative follow-up:

This is the Vatican link for this document.

www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/SacramentorumAndNormaeEng...



SACRAMENTORUM SANCTITATIS TUTELA
APOSTOLIC LETTER OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

given motu proprio, by which are promulgated Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls which must always be the supreme law in the Church (Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1752).

Indeed, Our Predecessors already provided for the sanctity of the sacraments, especially penance, through appropriate Apostolic Constitutions such as the Constitution Sacramentum Poenitentiae, of Pope Benedict XIV, issued June 1, 1741;[1] the same goal was likewise pursued by a number of canons of the Codex Iuris Canonici, promulgated in 1917 with their fontes by which canonical sanctions had been established against delicts of this kind.[2]

In more recent times, in order to avert these and connected delicts, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, through the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis, addressed to all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and other local Ordinaries even of an Oriental Rite on March 16, 1962, established a manner of proceeding in such cases, inasmuch as judicial competence had been attributed exclusively to it, which competence could be exercised either administratively or through a judicial process. It is to be kept in mind that an Instruction of this kind had the force of law since the Supreme Pontiff, according to the norm of can. 247, § 1 of the Codex Iuris Canonici promulgated in 1917, presided over the Congregation of the Holy Office, and the Instruction proceeded from his own authority, with the Cardinal at the time only performing the function of Secretary.

The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, of happy memory, by the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, issued on August 15, 1967,[3] confirmed the Congregations judicial and administrative competence in proceeding according to its amended and approved norms.

Finally, by the authority with which we are invested, in the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, promulgated on June 28, 1988, we expressly established, [The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against the faith and more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, which have been referred to it and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law,[4] thereby further confirming and determining the judicial competence of the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as an Apostolic Tribunal.

After we had approved the Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine,[5] it was necessary to define more precisely both the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions.

With this apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, we have completed this work and we hereby promulgate the Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Norms are divided in two distinct parts, of which the first contains Substantive Norms, and the second Procedural Norms . We therefore enjoin all those concerned to observe them diligently and faithfully. These Norms take effect on the very day when they are promulgated.

All things to the contrary, even those worthy of special mention, notwithstanding.

Give in Rome at St. Peters on April 30, 2001, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V, in the twenty-third year of Our Pontificate.

Pope John Paul II

AAS 93 (2001) 737-739


[Decisions of the Supreme Pontiff made on February 7 and 14, 2003, are indicated in bold type.]

Part One

SUBSTANTIVE NORMS

Art. 1

§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to the norm of art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus,[6] judges more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law, without prejudice to the competence of the Apostolic Penitentiary[7] and with Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine[8] remaining in force.

§ 2. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges the delicts mentioned in § 1 according to the norms which follow.

Art. 2

§ 1. The delicts against the sanctity of the Most Holy Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist, reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for judgement are:

1º the taking or retaining for a sacrilegious purpose, or the throwing away of the consecrated species[9] mentioned in can. 1367 of the Code of Canon Law[10] and in can. 1442 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[11]

2º the attempting of the liturgical offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice mentioned in can. 1378, § 2, n. 1, of the Code of Canon Law,[12] or the simulation of the same, mentioned in can. 1379 of the Code of Canon Law[13] and in can. 1443 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[14]

3º the concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice prohibited in can. 908 of the Code of Canon Law[15] and in can. 702 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[16] mentioned in can. 1365 of the Code of Canon Law[17] and in can. 1440 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[18] with ministers of ecclesial communities, which do not have apostolic succession and do not acknowledge the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.

§ 2. Also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the delict which consists in the consecration for a sacrilegious purpose of one matter without the other in a Eucharistic celebration, or even of both outside of the Eucharistic celebration.[19] One who has perpetrated this delict is to be punished according to the gravity of the crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Art. 3

The delicts against the sanctity of the sacrament of Penance reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for judgement are:

1º the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, mentioned in can. 1378, § 1, of the Code of Canon Law[20] and in can. 1457 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[21]

2º the solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession, mentioned in can. 1387 of the Code of Canon Law[22] and in can. 1458 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[23] if it is directed to sinning with the confessor himself.

3º the direct and indirect violation of the sacramental seal, mentioned in can. 1388, § 1, of the Code of Canon Law[24] and in can. 1456, § 1, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.[25]

4º the recording by any technical instrument and the broadcast/transmission by means of instruments of social communication of that which is said in sacramental confession by the confessor or the penitent (Decree of the CDF of 23 September 1988; AAS 70 [1988] 1367).

Art. 4

§ 1. Reservation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also extended to a delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years.

§ 2. One who has perpetrated the delict mentioned in § 1 is to be punished according to the gravity of the offense, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Art. 5

§ 1. Criminal action for delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by prescription after ten years.[26]

§ 2. Prescription runs according to the norm of can. 1362, § 2, of the Code of Canon Law[27] and can. 1152, § 3, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.[28] However, in the delict mentioned in art. 4, § 1, prescription begins to run from the day on which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age.

Part two

PROCEDURAL NORMS

Title I

The Constitution and Competence of the Tribunal

Art. 6

§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Supreme Apostolic Tribunal for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Catholic Churches for the judgement of the delicts defined in the preceding articles.

§ 2. This Supreme Tribunal also judges other delicts of which a defendant is accused by the Promoter of Justice by reason of connection of person and complicity.

§ 3. The sentences of this Supreme Tribunal, rendered within the limits of its proper competence, do not need to be submitted for the approval of the Supreme Pontiff.

Art. 7

§ 1. The Members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are by the law itself judges of this Supreme Tribunal.

§ 2. The Prefect of the Congregation presides as first among equals over the college of the Members, and if the office of Prefect is vacant or if the Prefect himself is impeded, the Secretary of the Congregation carries out those duties of the Prefect.

§ 3. It pertains to the Prefect of the Congregation to appoint [other] judges, whether permanent (stabiles) or delegated (deputatos).

Art. 8

It is necessary that such appointed judges be priests, of mature age, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence and expertise in the law. Such priests may at the same time exercise a judicial or consultative function before another Dicastery of the Roman Curia.

Art. 9

To present or sustain an accusation a Promoter of Justice is to be appointed, who is to be a priest, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence and expertise in the law. He is to carry out his office in all grades of judgment.

Art. 10

For the functions of Notary and Chancellor, priests are appointed, whether or not they are Officials of this Congregation.

Art. 11

The role of Advocate and Procurator is carried out by a priest, possessing a doctorate in canon law. He is to be approved by the Presiding Judge of the college.

Art. 12

Indeed, in the other Tribunals dealing with cases under these Norms, only priests can validly carry out the functions of Judge, Promoter of Justice, Notary, and Patron [Procurator and Advocate].

Faculty to dispense

The CDF may dispense from the requirement of priesthood and the requirement of a doctorate in canon law mentioned in artt. 8 (judges), 9 (Promoter of Justice, 10 (Notaries and Chancellors), 11 (Advocates and Procurators), 12 (Judges, Promoters of Justice, Notaries, Patrons in other Tribunals)

$ In the case of dispensation from the doctorate in canon law, this dispensation will only be granted to persons who hold a licentiate in canon law and who have worked in ecclesiastical tribunals for a reasonable time. [$ as on source Web site]

$ Concerning judges (artt. 8 and 12) the provisions of can. 1421 shall apply. [$ as on source Web site]

Art. 13

Whenever the Ordinary or Hierarch receives a report of a reserved delict which has at least a semblance of truth [notitiam saltem verisimilem], once the preliminary investigation has been completed, he is to communicate the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it calls the case to itself due to particular circumstances, will direct the Ordinary or Hierarch [how] to proceed further, with due regard, however, for the right to appeal against a sentence of the first instance only to the Supreme Tribunal of the same Congregation.

Extraordinary Faculty to sanate acts

The faculty, in cases legitimately brought to the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, to sanate acts, if procedural laws have been violated by inferior tribunals acting on the mandate of the same Congregation or under art. 13 of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.


Special Procedure in case of recourse against administrative acts of the CDF concerning delicta graviora cases


In delicta graviora cases, the request for revocation of administrative acts of the CDF and all other recourse against the said acts made in accordance to art. 135 of the Regolomento Generale della Curia Romana, shall be referred to the Feria IV [of the CDF] which will decide on the merits and on questions of lawfulness. Any other recourse under art. 123 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus is excluded.

Art. 14

If a case is referred directly to the Congregation without a preliminary investigation having been undertaken, the steps preliminary to the process, which fall by common law to the Ordinary or Hierarch, are carried out by the Congregation itself.

Art. 15

With due regard for the right of the Ordinary to impose those measures which are established in can. 1722 of the Code of Canon Law[29] or in can. 1473 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[30] the respective Presiding Judge, may, at the request of the Promoter of Justice, exercise the same power under the same conditions determined in the canons themselves.

Art. 16

The Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges in second instance:

1º cases adjudicated in first instance by lower tribunals;

2º cases decided by the same Supreme Apostolic Tribunal in first instance.

Title II

The Procedure to be followed in the Judicial Trial

Art. 17

The more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may only be tried in a judicial process.

Faculty to dispense

The faculty is granted to the CDF to dispense from art. 17 in those grave and clear cases which, according to the Particular Congress of the CDF:


a) may be referred directly to the Holy Father for an ex officio dismissal from the clerical state,

or

b) may be treated under the summary process of can. 1720 by the Ordinary who, in case he is of the opinion that the accused should be dismissed from the clerical state, will ask the CDF to impose dismissal by decree.

Art. 18

The Prefect is to constitute a Turnus of three or five judges to try the case.

Art. 19

If in the appellate stage the Promoter of Justice brings forward a specifically different accusation, this Supreme Tribunal can admit it and judge it as if at first instance.

Art. 20

§ 1. In cases concerning the delicts mentioned in art. 3, the Tribunal cannot indicate the name of the accuser to either the accused or his Patron unless the accuser has expressly consented.

§ 2. The same Tribunal must consider the particular importance of the question concerning the credibility of the accuser.

§ 3. Nevertheless, it is to be observed that any danger of violating the sacramental seal must be completely avoided.

Art. 21

If an incidental question arises, the College is to decide the matter by decree as promptly as possible [expeditissime - cf. cann. 1629, n. 5º CIC; 1310, n. 5° CCEO].

Art. 22

§ 1. With due regard for the right to appeal to this Supreme Tribunal, once an instance has finished in any manner before another Tribunal, all of the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

§ 2. The right of the Promoter of Justice of the Congregation to challenge a sentence runs from the day on which the sentence of first instance is made known to this same Promoter.

Art. 23

A res iudicata occurs:

1º if a sentence has been rendered in second instance;

2º if an appeal against a sentence has not been proposed within a month;

3º if, in the appellate stage, the instance is abated or is renounced;

4º if the sentence has been rendered in accord with the norm of art. 16.

Art. 24

§ 1. Judicial expenses are to be paid as the sentence has determined.

§ 2. If the defendant is not able to pay the expenses, they are to be paid by the Ordinary or Hierarch of the case.

Art. 25

§ 1. Cases of this nature are subject to the pontifical secret.[31]

§ 2. Whoever has violated the secret, whether deliberately (ex dolo) or through grave negligence, and has caused some harm to the accused or to the witnesses, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty by the higher Turnus at the request of the injured party or even ex officio.

Art. 26

In these cases, together with the prescripts of these Norms, by which all Tribunals of the Latin Church and Eastern Catholic Churches are bound, also the canons concerning delicts and penalties as well as the canons concerning the penal process of each Code must be applied.

This unofficial translation is based on a translation of the Motu Proprio by the USCCB and a translation of the Norms by Gregory Ingels, both revised by Joseph R. Punderson and Charles J. Scicluna. The translations of the canons of the CIC and the CCEO are from the translations published by the Canon Law Society of America in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

[The translation is reproduced here as it was posted at www.opusbonosacerdotii.org/sacramentorum_sanctitatis_tutela_englis...

[I have omitted the lengthy footnotes in this reproduction]


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The third reference document, which is often erroneously cited, is the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis issued by the CDF in 1962 with the approval of Pope John XXIII.

For years, the unofficial English translation was available only from
an unlikely site -
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/Criminales.pdf

An unofficial Englihs translation is now available from the Vatican resources page itself:
www.vatican.va/resources/resources_crimen-sollicitationis-1962...
I am not posting it here because it is too long, and because its major provisions regarding sexual crimes against minors have been superseded and vastly improved by the 2001 documents.


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The Procedure and Praxis of the CDF
regarding 'Graviora Delicta'

by Mgr Charles J. Scicluna
Promoter of Justice


A. Some preliminary considerations regarding substantive law

With reference to art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of 28 June 1988, art. 1 of the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela of 30 April 2001 distinguishes between two types of graviora delicta

a) “delicta in sacramentorum celebratione commissa” (delicts committed in the celebration of the sacraments)

b) “delicta contra mores” (delicts against morals).

Concerning the delicta graviora in sacramentorum celebratione commissa, the motu proprio takes into account only two sacraments: i) the Most Holy Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist ii) the sacrament of Penance.

The motu proprio, in art. 2, enumerates five (5) delicts against the Eucharist.

1. The profanation of the Sacred Species (art. 2, n. 1). The motu proprio makes explicit reference (cf. n. 9) to the authentic interpretation of 4 June 1999 which included in the definition of the verb “abicere”, used in can. 1367 CIC and can. 1442 CCEO, “quamlibet actionem Sacras Species voluntarie et graviter despicientem” (any action which voluntarily and gravely offends the Sacred Species).

2. The attempt to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice by someone not in Holy Orders ( art. 2, n. 2; can. 1378 §2, n. 1 CIC). This delict, while not mentioned in the CCEO, is explicitly included in the corpus canonum ecclesiarum orientalium in virtue of the motu proprio.

3. The simulation of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (art. 2, n. 2; can. 1379 CIC; can. 1443 CCEO). For both Codes, the simulation of any of the sacraments is a delict. The motu proprio only considers the simulation of Holy Mass or of the Divine Liturgy as a delictum gravius.

4. The concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice with a minister of an ecclesial community which does not have the Apostolic Succession and which does not recognize the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination (art. 2, n. 3). The motu proprio explicitly mentions cann. 908 and 1365 CIC as well as cann. 702 and 1440 CCEO. The scope of these canons is broader than the norm of the motu proprio, which restricts a delictum gravius to the concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice with “Protestant” ministers. It seems to me that the two elements (the absence of Apostolic Succession and the non-recognition of the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination) are indistinguishable in the description of this particular ecclesial community which is spoken of in art. 2, n. 3.

5. The consecration, for a sacrilegious purpose, of one of the Eucharistic species without the other in the Eucharistic celebration, or of both outside the Eucharistic celebration (Art. 2 § 2). Note 19 makes reference to can. 927 CIC which utilizes the expression nefas est to forbid an action which is not a formal delict. It is important to note the finis operantis “in sacrilegum finem”. I wonder whether such consecrations within the context of sacrilege verge on the delict of profanation of the Eucharist defined as “qualibet actio Sacras Species voluntarie et graviter despiciens”.

Art. 3 of the motu proprio envisages four (4) delicts against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance.

1. the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment (Art. 3, n. 1 can. 1378, § 1 CIC; can. 1457 CCEO).

2. the solicitation to sin against the Sixth Commandment (Art. 3, n. 2 can. 1387 CIC; can. 1458 CCEO). It is important to note that the motu proprio limits the delictum gravius to solicitation which is directed to sinning with the confessor himself (“quae ad peccandum cum ipso confessario dirigitur”), while the classic definition of sollicitatio in the Code includes also the solicitation to sin against the Sixth Commandment with a third person. The jurisprudence concerning this delict has evolved substantially, in part because in the 1917 Code an obligation existed, under pain of excommunication, to denounce the soliciting confessor. Solicitation also includes the explicit encouragement to commit impure acts. Some cases of abusive behaviour show that some priests have used the Sacrament of Penance to identify their victims and to make their first contact with them. This behaviour could easily be included under sollicitatio inchoata in which the confessor begins an apparently innocent conversation leading to a meeting with the penitent outside of confession where sexual or indecent behaviour occurs.

3. the direct or indirect violation of the sacramental seal (Art.3, n. 3 can. 1388 § 1 CIC; can. 1456 § 1 CCEO). The motu proprio originally included only the direct violation of the seal. The Holy Father, in an audience granted to Cardinal Ratzinger on 7 February 2003, decided to include also the indirect violation. This decision of the Supreme Legislator certainly makes it easier for the Ordinary to decide which cases are to be referred to the CDF by reason of competence. It is often difficult to distinguish between the two species of delict in actual cases of violating the seal.

4. the recording, or divulging by means of social communication, of that which has been said, whether by the priest or by the penitent, in confession (Art. 3, n. 4 Decretum CDF, 23.09.1988 AAS 80 [1988] 1367). This delictum gravius was added by the Holy Father in a decision dated 7 February 2003. The decree of the CDF, establishing an excommunication latae sententiae, was published in 1988.

It is worth noting a principal of procedural law pertaining particularly to this type of delict. Art. 20 of the motu proprio provides that, in cases of delicts against the Sacrament of Penance, the name of the accuser cannot be made known to the accused or to his advocate without the explicit consent of the accuser. This traditional principle also has corollary norms in Art. 20: a) the question of the credibility of the accuser in these cases is of the greatest importance; b) the need always to avoid any danger whatsoever of violating the sacramental seal.

For the category of delicta contra mores, the motu proprio contains only one, in art. 4: the delict against the Sixth Commandment committed by a cleric with a minor under the age of eighteen (18) years.

With regard to this delict, some considerations of the praxis of the CDF, are relevant:

a) the motu proprio speaks of a “delictum cum minore”. This does not mean only physical contact or direct abuse, but includes indirect abuse also (for example: showing pornography to minors; lewd indecent exposure in front of minors). Included also is the possession of, or downloading from the internet of, pedophilic pornography. This type of behaviour is also a civil crime in some nations. While “browsing” may be involuntary, it is difficult to see how “downloading” could be considered so, since not only does it involve making a choice or choosing a specific option, but often involves payment by credit card and the furnishing of personal information by the purchaser which can be traced back to him. Some priests have been incarcerated for possession of thousands of pornographic photos of children and youth. According to the praxis of the CDF such behaviour is considered a delictum gravius.

b) Can. 1395 § 2 CIC speaks of a delict with a minor under 16: “cum minore infra aetatem sedecim annorum”. The motu proprio, on the other hand, speaks of a delict with a minor under 18: “delictum … cum minore infra aetatem duodeviginti annorum”. Therefore the classification of the delict becomes more complex. Some experts, in fact, speak not only of pedophilia (the sexual attraction to prepubescent children) but also of ephebophilia (the sexual attraction to adolescents), of homosexuality (the sexual attraction to adults of the same sex) and of heterosexuality (the sexual attraction to adults of the other sex). Between sixteen and eighteen years of age, some “minors” may indeed be perceived as objects of homosexual or heterosexual attraction. Some civil jurisdictions consider a person of sixteen years as capable of giving consent for sexual activity (whether hetero- or homosexual). The motu proprio, however, stigmatizes as a delict every violation of the Sixth Commandment with a minor under eighteen years of age whether based on pedophilia, ephebophilia, homosexuality or heterosexuality. This differentiation has, nevertheless, an importance from the psychological, pastoral and juridical points of view. It helps, no doubt, both the Ordinary and the judge in grasping the gravity of the delict and choosing the path necessary for the reform of the guilty cleric, the reparation of scandal and the restitution of justice (cfr can. 1341).

c) A few serious cases of sexual abuse of minors between the ages of sixteen and eighteen committed prior to 30 April 2001 were dealt with under can. 1399: In addition to the cases established here or in other laws, the external violation of a divine or canonical law can be punished by a just penalty only when the special gravity of the violation demands punishment and there is an urgent need to prevent or repair scandals (“Praeter casus hac vel aliis legibus statutos, divinae vel canonicae legis externa violatio tunc tantum potest iusta quidem poena puniri, cum specialis violationis gravitas punitionem postulat, et necessitas urget scandala praeveniendi vel reparandi”). As this canon speaks only of a “iusta poena”, according to can. 1349 a judge is not able, therefore, to inflict a perpetual penalty.

The question of prescription with regard to graviora delicta is once again much discussed after the motu proprio because, for the first time in history, a time limit has been imposed, after which the actio criminalis is extinguished for these delicts. Art. 5 § 1 indicates that a delict is bound by prescription after ten years, while Art. 5 § 2 establishes that this period of ten years runs according to the norm of can. 1362 § 2 CIC or of can. 1152 § 3 CCEO: Prescription runs from the day on which the delict was committed or, if the delict is continuous or habitual, from the day on which it ceased (“praescriptio decurrit ex die quo delictum patratum est, vel, si delictum sit permanens vel habituale, ex die quo cessavit”). In cases of sexual abuse, the period of ten years begins to run the day on which the minor completes his eighteenth year. Experience has shown that a term of ten years is inadequate for these types of cases and that it would be desirable to return to the former system in which these delicts were not subject to prescription at all. On 7 November 2002, the Holy Father granted to the CDF the faculty to derogate from prescription on a case by case basis upon request of an individual bishop.

B. Some Notes on Procedure

The Notitia criminis

Delicta graviora are referred to the CDF by the Ordinary in virtue of Art. 13 of the motu proprio which speaks of “notitia saltem verisimilem … de delicto reservato” and of an “investigatio praevia”. The first phase is identical to that envisaged by can. 1717. The Ordinary has the obligation to investigate both the credibility of the accusation as well as the substance or object of the alleged delict. If the result of the “investigatio praevia” is that the accusation is credible, the Ordinary no longer has power or competence to treat the material in conformity with can. 1718, but he must refer the case to the CDF.

The Options of the CDF

The CDF studies the acts submitted by the Ordinary and, if no further information is requested in order to arrive at an informed decision, the Congregation proceeds to a very important first decision, namely, the method, iter, of resolving the case. Different possibilities are possible:

a) the CDF may decide that the facts of the case do not require any further penal action and propose, or confirm, some non-penal administrative provisions for the sake of the common good of the Church, including the good of the denounced cleric (cf. cann. 1718 § 1, nn. 1-2). Against such provisions of the CDF, it is not possible to make hierarchic recourse to the Apostolic Signatura but only to the Cardinal and Bishop members in Ordinary Session of the CDF, commonly known by the name Feria Quarta.

b) The CDF may decide to present the case directly to the Holy Father for a dimissio ex officio of the accused cleric. This is reserved for particularly grave cases in which the guilt of the cleric is beyond doubt and well documented. It is the praxis of the CDF to request that the Ordinary ask the guilty cleric if he would prefer to seek himself a dispensation from his priestly obligations. If the cleric refuses, or does not respond, the case proceeds. The Disciplinary Section of the CDF prepares a report for the Holy Father who himself decides the case on the occasion of the audience granted generally on a Friday to the Cardinal Prefect or to the Secretary of the Congregation. The rescript will be communicated to the Ordinary. There is no appeal or recourse against the decision of the Holy Father.

c) The CDF may decide to authorize a penal administrative procedure according to can. 1720 CIC (can. 1486 CCEO). If the Ordinary is of the opinion that the case merits the imposition of the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, he must refer his opinion to the CDF which will, in turn, decide to impose the penalty or not. Against such a decision recourse may be made to the Feria IV.

d) The CDF may decide to authorize the Ordinary to conduct a penal judicial process in the diocese, with the proviso that, in every case, an appeal will be reserved to the Tribunal of the CDF. The judges, the promoter of justice, the notaries, as well as the advocates must be priests (Art. 12) or be dispensed from this prerequisite. Art. 22 further requires that the acts of the case be transmitted ex officio to the CDF at the conclusion of the first instance. The Promoter of Justice of the Congregation has the faculty to appeal the first instance sentence within thirty days “a die qua sententia primae instantiae ipsi Promotori nota facta sit”. In these cases, the CDF has the faculty to senate any acts of procedural law of inferior tribunals. The decision of the Tribunal of the CDF in second instance does not admit of appeal, and therefore, becomes a res iudicata (Art. 23 n. 1 and n. 4).

As regards religious, the following procedural iter is foreseen:

Each time the competent Superior (can. 620) receives information about at least a probable delictum gravius committed by a religious cleric, he must carry out an investigatio praevia according to the norm of law. The religious must be informed of the outcome and given the opportunity to defend himself (cann. 1717; 695, § 2). All the acts must be handed over to the Supreme Moderator according to the norms laid down in can. 695, §2. In turn, the Supreme Moderator will forward the aforementioned acts to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with his own votum and that of his council about both the merits of the case and the procedure to be followed.

Once it has received the necessary acts from the Supreme Moderator, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will indicate the procedure to be followed and the measures to be taken:

a) When this Congregation indicates that the case should proceed by means of a penal trial, it can also indicate, according to circumstances, the competent tribunal to undertake the proceedings at first instance (cf. cann. 1427; 1408 with can. 103). The said tribunal may decree dismissal from the Institute as well as dismissal from the clerical state. The appeal judgement is reserved to the Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith;

b) When this Congregation decides that the case should proceed in an administrative manner, it will ask the Supreme Moderator to proceed according to the norm of can. 699, § 1. With his council, the Supreme Moderator can decide not to order dismissal from the Institute but to issue disciplinary measures. It is the exclusive duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to confirm the decree of dismissal from the Institute according to the norm of can. 700. At the same time the Congregation will also decide whether to impose upon the religious the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. Copies of any decrees will be sent ex officio to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Appeals against decrees issued in cases of delicta graviora will be decided exclusively by the Ordinary Congregation of members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Feria IV). There is no recourse to the Apostolic Signatura. Recourses have a suspensive effect.

c) As regards institutes of diocesan right, each presentation from the Supreme Moderator to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must be endorsed by the Bishop of the religious person’s domicile or quasi-domicile according to the norms of can. 103.


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As expected, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released today its quick guide to understanding its procedures regarding child abuse cases against priests.


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The applicable law is the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (MP SST) of 30 April 2001 together with the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This is an introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists.

A: Preliminary Procedures

The local diocese investigates every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.

If the allegation has a semblance of truth the case is referred to the CDF. The local bishop transmits all the necessary information to the CDF and expresses his opinion on the procedures to be followed and the measures to be adopted in the short and long term.

Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.

During the preliminary stage and until the case is concluded, the bishop may impose precautionary measures to safeguard the community, including the victims. Indeed, the local bishop always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese. This is part of his ordinary authority, which he is encouraged to exercise to whatever extent is necessary to assure that children do not come to harm, and this power can be exercised at the bishop's discretion before, during and after any canonical proceeding.

B: Procedures authorized by the CDF

The CDF studies the case presented by the local bishop and also asks for supplementary information where necessary.

The CDF has a number of options:

B1 Penal Processes

The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct a judicial penal trial before a local Church tribunal. Any appeal in such cases would eventually be lodged to a tribunal of the CDF.

The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct an administrative penal process before a delegate of the local bishop assisted by two assessors. The accused priest is called to respond to the accusations and to review the evidence. The accused has a right to present recourse to the CDF against a decree condemning him to a canonical penalty. The decision of the Cardinals members of the CDF is final.

Should the cleric be judged guilty, both judicial and administrative penal processes can condemn a cleric to a number of canonical penalties, the most serious of which is dismissal from the clerical state. The question of damages can also be treated directly during these procedures.

B2 Cases referred directly to the Holy Father

In very grave cases where a civil criminal trial has found the cleric guilty of sexual abuse of minors or where the evidence is overwhelming, the CDF may choose to take the case directly to the Holy Father with the request that the Pope issue a decree of "ex officio" dismissal from the clerical state. There is no canonical remedy against such a papal decree.

The CDF also brings to the Holy Father requests by accused priests who, cognizant of their crimes, ask to be dispensed from the obligation of the priesthood and want to return to the lay state. The Holy Father grants these requests for the good of the Church ("pro bono Ecclesiae").

B3 Disciplinary Measures

In cases where the accused priest has admitted to his crimes and has accepted to live a life of prayer and penance, the CDF authorizes the local bishop to issue a decree prohibiting or restricting the public ministry of such a priest. Such decrees are imposed through a penal precept which would entail a canonical penalty for a violation of the conditions of the decree, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state. Administrative recourse to the CDF is possible against such decrees. The decision of the CDF is final.

C. Revision of MP SST

For some time the CDF has undertaken a revision of some of the articles of Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela, in order to update the said Motu Proprio of 2001 in the light of special faculties granted to the CDF by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The proposed modifications under discussion will not change the above-mentioned procedures (A, B1-B3).




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I have only skimmed through this summary, and have not checked out the facts it has chosen to report, but since the compilers appear to have used direct quotations from the media reports and from subsequent reactions to these reports, one must assume they have not made any errors even if inadvertent. For now, although it is not a Church document, it makes a convenient one-stop reference for the chronology of the current media assault on Benedict XVI's credibility and moral authority...



The Pope and the abuse scandal:
A guide for perplexed Catholics


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13 April 2010


Here we publish a narrative account of the furore that engulfed Pope Benedict XVI after claims that he covered up clerical abuse.

The Munich case

The recent furore surrounding Pope Benedict XVI began with a report in the New York Times on Friday, March 12, headlined "Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope". The article, by Nicholas Kulish and Rachel Donadio, disclosed that in 1980 the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising agreed to house a priest of the Diocese of Essen while he underwent therapy after he was accused of molesting boys. The priest was later allowed to resume his pastoral duties in Munich archdiocese. He eventually committed further abuses and was prosecuted.

The New York Times was the first newspaper in the English-speaking world to report on the Munich case. But it was first brought to the attention of the archdiocese by the German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The report was explosive because the future Pope Benedict was in charge of Munich archdiocese at the time the decision was taken to send the priest, known initially as Fr "H" and later named as Peter Hullermann, for therapy.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying that "serious mistakes" had been made in the case, but that the vicar general at the time, Fr Gerhard Gruber, and not then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, was responsible for reassigning the priest to pastoral ministry. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said he had nothing to add to the archdiocese's statement, which he said showed the future Pope's "non-responsibility" for the errors.

The New York Times quoted a Dominican priest and canon lawyer, Fr Thomas Doyle, who challenged the archdiocese's account.

"Nonsense," Fr Doyle said. "Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He's the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he's trying to do, obviously, is protect the Pope."

The newspaper described Fr Doyle as "an early and well-known whistle-blower on sexual abuse in the Church". It omitted to mention that he had a history of clashing with Church authorities on other matters. In 2004, for example, he was dismissed from his post as an air force chaplain by Archbishop Edwin O'Brien and was barred in 2008 from offering legal representation in the Archdiocese of St Louis by the then Archbishop Raymond Burke.

The world's media seized on the New York Times report. And the next day some news outlets offered new, and even more dramatic, interpretations of the case. The Times of London, for example, headlined its report "Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry". But the story, by Richard Owen, offered no evidence for the headline.

Commentators hostile to the Church also pounced on the case. The celebrated New Atheist Christopher Hitchens wrote an incendiary column for Slate, in which he accused the Pope of "obstructing justice on a global scale" and said his "whole career has the stench of evil - a clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel".

Sean Murphy, a Canadian former police officer who worked on an abuse case that led to the conviction of a Catholic priest, published a systematic refutation of Hitchens's article on the Catholic Education Resource Centre website. He concluded that Hitchens had been "remarkably careless in his reading and incompetent in his research".

In a rare interview, Mgr Charles Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that claims that the Pope was responsible for covering up abuse were "false and calumnious".

But other respected Catholic commentators suggested that the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising should shed more light on the Hullermann case. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter said that "true friends of the Pope" should press for full disclosure.

"The Munich archdiocese could publish a comprehensive list of every priest, diocesan and religious, who served in the archdiocese between May 1977 and February 1982, along with whatever information Church officials had at the time about any accusations against them, and what was done," he wrote.

"Church officials in Munich could invite responsible journalists or investigators to examine the records independently, obviously with the understanding that in the case of false or unproven allegations, confidentiality of the parties would be preserved.

"The idea would be to reassure public opinion that the Church isn't holding anything back, that this is indeed complete transparency." George Weigel, the biographer of Pope John Paul II, echoed this suggestion.

He wrote: "A documented chronology how the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising handled the case of an abusing priest who had been brought to Munich for therapy while Ratzinger was archbishop would help buttress the flat denials, by both the Vatican and the archdiocese, that Ratzinger knowingly reassigned a known abuser to pastoral work ...

" More and clearer explanations of how the canonical procedures put into place at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith several years ago have accelerated, not impeded, the Church's disciplining of abusive clergy would also be useful."

The Murphy case

On March 24, the New York Times published a sensational new report alleging that top Vatican officials, including the future Pope, "did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys". The article, headlined "Vatican Declined to Defrock US Priest Who Abused Boys" and written by Laurie Goodstein, claimed that internal correspondence from bishops directly to Cardinal Ratzinger, published on the paper's website, showed "that while Church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the Church from scandal".

The paper said that the cardinal had failed to respond to two letters from Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee concerning the priest, Fr Lawrence Murphy, and that the case was halted after Fr Murphy wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger saying he should not be tried because he had repented and was in poor health.

The report created a media firestorm as newspapers and television stations across the world picked up on the allegations. BBC News online, for example, ran the headline "Pope accused of failing to act on sex abuse case". Many websites and television programmes held discussions over whether the Pope should resign. The Vatican press office took the unusual step of issuing a detailed statement on an individual case. It is worth reproducing in full because it exposes some of the weaknesses of the New York Times report.

It said: "The tragic case of Fr Lawrence Murphy, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did. By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Fr Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him.

"During the mid-1970s, some of Fr Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped.The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some 20 years later.

It has been suggested that a relationship exists between the application of Crimen sollicitationis [a 1922 document setting out norms for dealing with sexual abuse by clergy] and the non-reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in this case. In fact, there is no such relationship. Indeed, contrary to some statements that have circulated in the press, neither Crimen nor the Code of Canon Law ever prohibited the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.

"In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically.

"The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr Murphy.

"In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

"In light of the facts that Fr Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the Archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident."

The New York Times report was further undermined when Fr Thomas Brundage, the presiding judge in the case, published an article revealing that not a single journalist had attempted to contact him to verify the facts. His testimony was significant because he said that, to the best of his knowledge, the future Pope played no part in the case.

He wrote: "With regard to the role of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in this matter, I have no reason to believe that he was involved at all. Placing this matter at his doorstep is a huge leap of logic and information."

Fr Brundage initially said the case against Murphy was never halted, but later confirmed that it was abated shortly before the priest's death.

"Fr Murphy’s death two days after Archbishop Weakland’s August 19 1998 letter made the matter moot as de-facto death permanently abated the case," he wrote.

Canadian priest Fr Raymond de Souza raised yet further questions about the New York Times report, particularly regarding the role of Archbishop Weakland, who was responsible for the Murphy case for more than 20 years.

"The New York Times story had two sources," he wrote in the National Review Online. "First, lawyers who currently have a civil suit pending against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. One of the lawyers, Jeffrey Anderson, also has cases in the United States Supreme Court pending against the Holy See. He has a direct financial interest in the matter being reported.

"The second source was Archbishop Rembert Weakland, retired Archbishop of Milwaukee. He ... had responsibility for the Fr Murphy case between 1977 and 1998, when Fr Murphy died. He has long been embittered that his maladministration of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee earned him the disfavour of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, long before it was revealed that he had used parishioners' money to pay off his clandestine lover. He is prima facie not a reliable source."

Others criticised the report for its vague chronology and its failure to state clearly that in the 1990s Cardinal Ratzinger was not responsible for most priestly abuse cases. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith handled the case because of the claim that Murphy abused the sacrament of Confession. It was only in 2001, with the publication of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, that responsibility for the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clerics was given to Cardinal Ratzinger.

On March 24 the New York Times published another report on the Munich case, claiming that the future Pope was "kept more closely apprised" of the case "than previous Church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the Church's hierarchy".

The Vatican press office responded immediately, referring to a statement by the Munich archdiocese which said: "'The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Fr H. Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Fr H to pastoral activities in a parish. It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation."

The Kiesle case

On Friday April 9, the Associated Press triggered a third global media outcry when it published a report claiming that the future Pope had delayed punishing a paedophile priest. The report, written by Gillian Flaccus and headlined "Future Pope stalled paedophile case", suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger had resisted pleas to "defrock" Fr Stephen Kiesle, a Californian priest who had molested children. AP published a letter from 1985 bearing the cardinal's signature, which, it said, was "the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of paedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office".

Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer to the Holy See based in California, said that the letter appeared to be "a form letter typically sent out initially with respect to laicisation cases" when men ask to leave the priesthood.

"There may be some overstep and rush to judgment going on here," Mr Lena said. "During the entire course of the proceeding the priest remained under the control, authority and care of the local bishop who was responsible to make sure he did no harm, as the canon law provides. The abuse case wasn't transferred to the Vatican at all."

Phil Lawler, director of Catholic Culture, described the AP report as a "completely phoney story".

He said: "This was not a case in which a bishop wanted to discipline his priest and the Vatican official demurred. This was not a case in which a priest remained active in ministry, and the Vatican did nothing to protect the children under his pastoral care. This was not a case in which the Vatican covered up evidence of a priest's misconduct.

"This was a case in which a priest asked to be released from his vows, and the Vatican - which had been flooded by such requests throughout the 1970s - wanted to consider all such cases carefully. In short, if you're looking for evidence of a sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this case is irrelevant."

He added: "Competent reporters, when dealing with a story that involves special expertise, seek information from experts in that field. Capable journalists following this story should have sought out canon lawyers to explain the 1985 document - not merely relied on the highly biased testimony of civil lawyers who have lodged multiple suits against the Church.

"If they had understood the case, objective reporters would have recognised that they had no story. But in this case, reporters for the major media outlets are far from objective."

New Atheist legal threat

On March 29 Christopher Hitchens wrote a new article for Slate in which he hinted that the Pope would face arrest during his September visit to Britain.

"The secular authorities have been feeble for too long but now some lawyers and prosecutors are starting to bestir themselves," he wrote.

"I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It's enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now."

Three days later the Guardian published an opinion piece by Geoffrey Robertson, a barrister and UN appeal judge, implying that the Pope should be tried for crimes against humanity. He likened Benedict XVI to the genocidal Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and suggested that he too might be indicted by the International Criminal Court.

On April 11 the Sunday Times reported that Richard Dawkins was planning "a legal ambush" for the Pope in September. The article disclosed that Dawkins and Hitchens had commissioned Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens, a solicitor at the London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, "to present a justification for legal action".

Dawkins quickly distanced himself from the report.

He wrote: "Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high-profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down.

"Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson's subsequent 'Put the Pope in the dock' article in the Guardian shows him to be ideal. The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens.

"I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity."

Dawkins clarified that the intention was not, in fact, to arrest the Pope but to use the law to turn public opinion against the papal visit.

He said: "Even if the Pope doesn't end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn't cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British Government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope's visit, let alone pay for it."

Christopher Hitchens, too, appeared to play down the legal threat in a Slate column on April 12, while continuing to heap insults on the Pope.

"If [Benedict XVI] gets away with it," he said, "then he gets away with it, and the faithful can be proud of their supreme leader. But this we can promise, now that his own signature has been found on Fr Kiesle's permission to rape: there will be only one subject of conversation until Ratzinger calls off his visit, and only one subject if he decides to try to go through with it. In either event, he will be remembered for only one thing long after he is dead."

Commentators greeted the disclosure that Dawkins and Hitchens were the source of the legal threat to the Pope with widespread derision. David Blackburn of the Spectator said Dawkins's challenge verged "on the pathologically absurd". And Sam Leith of the Evening Standard said Hitchens and Dawkins "had a philosophical beef with the Pope before they had a legal one, and they will appear to many people to be acting in their roles as professional atheists with books to promote".

Meanwhile, Neil Addison, a lawyer and national director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, described Geoffrey Robertson's legal argument as "rubbish".

"The legal status of the Vatican as an independent state may be regarded by some as ridiculous and it can be described as anomalous but it is nevertheless a legal fact and it is frankly fatuous for a lawyer to suggest otherwise," he said, adding: "When a lawyer writes an article or blog and invokes the law then people are entitled to assume that they are quoting the law accurately, not just engaging in personal prejudice and polemic masquerading as legal fact."

The Pope's record

In the middle of the controversy, John Allen wrote a long essay on Benedict XVI and clerical abuse. In November 2002, Allen recalled, Cardinal Ratzinger was asked to comment on the abuse scandal in the United States and appeared to blame the media. But in 2003-2004, Allen said, the Pope underwent a "conversion experience", after which "he and his staff seemed driven by a convert's zeal to clean up the mess".

In a subsequent article in the New York Times, Allen argued that "Benedict XVI isn't just part of the problem. He's also a major chapter in the solution".

"After being elected Pope, Benedict made the abuse cases a priority," he wrote. "One of his first acts was to discipline two high-profile clerics against whom sex abuse allegations had been hanging around for decades, but had previously been protected at the highest levels.

"He is also the first pope ever to meet with victims of abuse, which he did in the United States and Australia in 2008. He spoke openly about the crisis some five times during his 2008 visit to the United States. And he became the first pope to devote an entire document to the sex abuse crisis, his pastoral letter to Ireland."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster suggested that Pope Benedict was "the one above all else in Rome that has tackled this thing head on". Writing in the Times, he said: "When he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he led important changes made in Church law: the inclusion in canon law of internet offences against children, the extension of child abuse offences to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, the case by case waiving of the statue of limitation and the establishment of a fast-track dismissal from the clerical state for offenders. He is not an idle observer. His actions speak as well as his words."

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July 15, 2010

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The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in 1917 recognized the existence of a number of canonical crimes or "delicts" reserved to the exclusive competence of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office which, as a tribunal, was governed by its own proper law (cfr. can. 1555 CIC 1917).

A few years after the promulgation of the 1917 Code, the Holy Office issued an Instruction, Crimen Sollicitationis(1922), which gave detailed instruction to local dioceses and tribunals on the procedures to be adopted when dealing with the canonical delict of solicitation.

This most grave crime concerned the abuse of the sanctity and dignity of the Sacrament of Penance by a Catholic priest who solicited the penitent to sin against the sixth commandment, either with the confessor himself, or with a third party. The norms issued in 1922 were an update, in light of the Code of Canon Law of 1917, of the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentorum Poenitentiae promulgated by Pope Benedict XIV in 1741.

A number of concerns had to be addressed, underlining the specificity of the legislation (with implications which are less relevant from the perspective of civil penal law):
- the respect of the dignity of the sacrament,
- the inviolable seal of the confessional,
- the dignity of the penitent and
- the fact that in most cases the accused priest could not be interrogated fully on what occurred without putting the seal of confession in danger.

This special procedure was based, therefore, on an indirect method of achieving the moral certitude necessary for a definitive decision in the case. This indirect method included investigating the credibility of the person accusing the priest and the life and behaviour of the accused priest.

The accusation itself was considered the most serious accusation one could bring against a Roman Catholic priest. Therefore, the procedure took care to ensure that a priest who could be a victim of a false or calumnious accusation would be protected from infamy until proven guilty.

This was achieved through a strict code of confidentiality which was meant to protect all persons concerned from undue publicity until the definitive decision of the ecclesiastic tribunal.

The 1922 Instruction included a short section dedicated to another canonical delict: the crimen pessimum which dealt with same-sex clerical misconduct. This further section determined that the special procedures for solicitation cases should be used for crimen pessimum cases, with those adaptations rendered necessary by the nature of the case.

The norms concerning the [G]crimen pessimum also extended to the heinous crime of sexual abuse of prepubescent children and to bestiality.

The Instruction Crimen sollecitationis was, therefore, never intended to represent the entirety of the policy of the Catholic Church regarding sexual improprieties on the part of the clergy.

Rather, its sole purpose was to establish a procedure that responded to the singularly delicate situation that is a sacramental confession, in which the duty of complete confidentiality on the part of the priest corresponds, according to divine law, to the complete openness of the intimate life of the soul on the part of the penitent.

Over time and only analogously, these norms were extended to some cases of immoral conduct of priests. The idea that there should be comprehensive legislation that treats the sexual conduct of persons entrusted with the educational responsibility is very recent; therefore, attempting to judge the canonical norms of the past century from this perspective is gravely anachronistic.

The 1922 Instruction was given as needed to bishops who had to deal with particular cases concerning solicitation, clerical homosexuality, sexual abuse of children and bestiality.

In 1962, Blessed Pope John XXIII authorised a reprint of the 1922 Instruction, with a small section added regarding the administrative procedures to be used in those cases in which religious clerics were involved. Copies of the 1962 re-print were meant to be given to the Bishops gathering for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

A few copies of this re-print were handed out to bishops who, in the meantime, needed to process cases reserved to the Holy Office but, most of the copies were never distributed.

The reforms proposed by the Second Vatican Council required a reform of the 1917 Code of Canon Law and of the Roman Curia. The period between 1965 and 1983 (the year when the new Latin Code of Canon Law appeared) was marked by differing trends in canonical scholarship as to the scope of canonical penal law and the need for a de-centralized approach to cases with emphasis on the authority and discretion of the local bishops.

A "pastoral attitude" towards misconduct [by priests] was preferred and canonical processes were thought by some to be anachronistic. A "therapeutic model" often prevailed in dealing with clerical misconduct. The bishop was expected to "heal" rather than "punish".

An over-optimistic idea of the benefits of psychological therapy guided many decisions concerning diocesan or religious personnel, sometimes without adequate regard for the possibility of recidivism.


Cases concerning the dignity of the Sacrament of Penance remained with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office; its name changed in 1965) after the Council, and the Instruction Crimen Sollicitationis was still used for such cases until the new norms established by the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela in 2001.

A small number of cases concerning sexual misconduct of clergy with minors was referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after the Second Vatican Council.

Some of these cases were linked with the abuse of the sacrament of Penance, while a number may have been referred as requests for dispensations from the obligations of priesthood, including celibacy (sometimes referred to as "laicization") which were dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 1989. (From 1989 to 2005 the competence in these dispensation cases was transferred to the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship; from 2005 to the present, the same cases have been treated by the Congregation for the Clergy).

The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983 updated the whole discipline in canon 1395, § 2: "A cleric who in another way has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants".

According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, canonical trials are held in the dioceses. Appeals from judicial sentences may be presented to the Roman Rota, whereas administrative recourses against penal decrees are presented to the Congregation for the Clergy.

In 1994 the Holy See granted an indult to the Bishops of the United States: the age for the canonical crime of sexual abuse of a minor was raised to 18. At the same time, prescription (canonical term for Statute of Limitations) was extended to a period of 10 years from the 18th birthday of the victim.

Bishops were reminded to conduct canonical trials in their dioceses. Appeals were to be heard by the Roman Rota. Administrative Recourses were heard by the Congregation for the Clergy. During this period (1994 - 2001) no reference was made to the previous competence of the Holy Office over such cases.

The 1994 Indult for the US was extended to Ireland in 1996.

In the meantime the question of special procedures for sexual abuse cases was under discussion in the Roman Curia. Finally Pope John Paul II decided to include the sexual abuse of a minor under 18 by a cleric, among the new list of canonical delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prescription for these cases was of ten (10) years from the 18th birthday of the victim.

This new law was promulgated in the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela on 30 April 2001. A letter signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was sent to all the Roman Catholic Bishops on 18 May 2001. This letter informed the bishops of the new law and the new procedures which replaced the Instruction Crimen Sollicitationis.

The acts that constitute the most grave delicts reserved to the Congregation were specified in this letter, both those against morality and those committed in the celebration of the Sacraments.

Also given were special procedural norms to be followed in cases concerning these grave delicts, including those norms regarding the determination and imposition of canonical sanctions.


The delicta graviora reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were as follows:

1. Delicts against the sanctity of the Most Holy Sacrament and Sacrifice of the Eucharist:
- Throwing away, taking or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose, or profaning the consecrated species (CIC can. 1367; CCEO can. 1442).
- Attempting the liturgical action of the Eucharistic sacrifice or the simulation thereof (CIC can. 1378 § 2 n. 1, can. 1379; CCEO can. 1443).
- Concelebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice together with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have Apostolic succession nor recognize the Sacramental dignity of priestly ordination (CIC can. 908, 1365; CCEO can. 792, 1440).
- Consecrating one matter without the other in a Eucharistic celebration or both outside of a Eucharistic celebration (cf. CIC can. 927).

2. Delicts against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance:

- Absolution of an accomplice in the sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue (CIC can. 1378 § 1; CCEO can. 1457).
- Solicitation to sin with the confessor against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, in the act of, context of or pretext of the Sacrament of Penance (CIC can. 1387; CCEO can. 1458).
- Direct violation of the Sacramental seal (CIC can. 1388 § 1; CCEO can. 1456).

3. Delicts against morality:
- The violation of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, committed by a cleric with a minor under the age of 18.

The procedural norms to be followed in these cases were as follows:

- Whenever an Ordinary or Hierarch had at least probable knowledge (notitiam saltem verisimilem habeat) of the commission of one of the reserved grave delicts, after having carried out the preliminary investigation, he was to inform the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it called the case to itself because of special circumstances, would indicate to the Ordinary or Hierarch how to proceed. The right of appeal against a sentence of the first instance was to be exercised only before the Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation.

- Criminal action in the cases reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was extinguished by a prescription of ten years. It was also foreseen that prescription would be computed according to the norms of CIC can. 1362 § 2 and CCEO can. 1152 § 3, with the singular exception of the delict contra sextum cum minore, in which case prescription would begin to run from the day when the minor had completed his eighteenth year of age.

- In tribunals established by Ordinaries of Hierarchs, for the cases of the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative could be validly performed only by priests.

Furthermore, upon completion of the trial in the tribunal in any manner, the acts of the case were to be transmitted ex officio, as soon as possible, to the Congregation.

- It was also established that all of the tribunals of the Latin Church and of all Eastern Catholic Churches were to observe the canons on delicts, penalties and the penal process of both Codes respectively. These were to be followed together with the special norms given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Nine years after the promulgation of the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt it necessary to propose certain changes to these norms, not modifying the text in its entirety, but rather only in a few areas, in an effort to improve the application of the law.*

After a serious and attentive study of the proposed changes, the Cardinals and Bishops Members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the results of their decisions to the Supreme Pontiff and, on 21 May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave his approval and ordered the promulgation of the revised text.

The text of the Norms on delicta graviora currently in force is the text approved by the Holy Father Benedict XVI on 21 May 2010.


* Did anyone at the Vatican reconcile the texts of the documents released today? The statement in the historical background makes it seem that CDF only proposed all these changes recently, whereas Fr. Lombardi's statement is clear and explicit:

Over the nine years since then, experience has naturally suggested that these Norms be integrated and updated, so as to streamline and simplify the procedures and make them more effective, and to take account of new problems.

This has been achieved principally by the Pope attributing new "faculties" to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; faculties which, however, were not organically integrated into the initial Norms. This has now come about, within the context of a systematic revision of those Norms.


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Approved by Pope Benedict XVI on May 21, 2010


Part One

SUBSTANTIVE NORMS

Art. 1
§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus[1], judges delicts against the faith, as well as the more grave delicts committed against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law, with due regard for the competence of the Apostolic Penitentiary[2] and in keeping with Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine.[3]

§ 2. With regard to the delicts mentioned above in § 1, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by mandate of the Roman Pontiff, may judge Cardinals, Patriarchs, Legates of the Apostolic See, Bishops as well as other physical persons mentioned in can. 1405 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law[4], and in can. 1061 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.[5]

§ 3. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges the reserved delicts mentioned in § 1 according to the following norms.


Art. 2
§ 1. The delicts against the faith referred to in art. 1 are heresy, apostasy and schism according to the norm of can. 751[6] and 1364[7] of the Code of Canon Law, and can. 1436[8] and 1437[9] of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
§ 2. In the abovementioned cases referred to in § 1, it pertains to the Ordinary or Hierarch to remit, by norm of law, if it be the case, the latae sententiae excommunication and likewise to undertake a judicial trial in the first instance or issue an extrajudicial decree, with due regard for the right of appeal or of recourse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Art. 3
§ 1. The more grave delicts against the sanctity of the most Holy Sacrifice and Sacra­ment of the Eucharist reserved to the Congre­gation for the Doctrine of the Faith for judgment are:

1° the taking or retaining for a sacrile­gious purpose or the throwing away of the consecrated species[10], as mentioned in can. 1367 of the Code of Canon Law[11], and in can. 1442 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[12];

2° attempting the liturgical action of the Eucharistic Sacrifice spoken of in can. 1378 § 2, n. 1, of the Code of Canon Law[13];

3° the simulation of the same, spoken of in can. 1379 of the Code of Canon Law[14] and in can. 1443 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[15];

4° the concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice prohibited in can. 908 of the Code of Canon Law[16], and in can. 702 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[17], spoken of in can. 1365 of the Code of Canon Law[18], and in can. 1440 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[19], with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have apostolic succession and do not acknowledge the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.

§ 2. Also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the delict which consists in the consecration for a sacrilegious purpose of one matter without the other or even of both, either within or outside of the eucharistic celebration[20]. One who has perpetrated this delict is to be punished according to the gravity of the crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.


Art. 4
§ 1. The more grave delicts against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

1° the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, mentioned in can. 1378 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law[21], and in can. 1457 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[22];

2° attempted sacramental absolution or the prohibited hearing of confession, mentioned in can. 1378 § 2, 2° of the Code of Canon Law[23];

3° simulated sacramental absolution, mentioned in can. 1379 of the Code of Canon Law[24],and in can. 1443 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[25];

4° the solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession, as mentioned in can. 1387 of the Code of Canon Law[26], and in can. 1458 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[27], if it is directed to sinning with the confessor himself;

5° the direct and indirect violation of the sacramental seal, mentioned in can. 1388 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law[28],and in can. 1456 §1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[29];

§ 2. With due regard for § 1, n. 5, also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the more grave delict which consists in the recording, by whatever technical means, or in the malicious diffusion through communications media, of what is said in sacramental confession, whether true or false, by the confessor or the penitent. Anyone who commits such a delict is to punished according to the gravity of the crime, not excluding, if he be a cleric, dismissal or deposition[30].


Art. 5
The more grave delict of the attempted sacred ordination of a woman is also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

2° If the one attempting to confer sacred ordination, or the woman who attempts to receive sacred ordination, is a member of the Christian faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for can. 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by major excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

3° If the guilty party is a cleric he may be punished by dismissal or deposition[31].


Art. 6
§ 1. The more grave delicts against morals which are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

1° the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years; in this case, a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor.

2° the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology;

§ 2. A cleric who commits the delicts mentioned above in § 1 is to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.


Art. 7
§ 1. A criminal action for delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by prescription after twenty years, with due regard to the right of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to derogate from prescription in individual cases.

§ 2. Prescription runs according to the norm of can. 1362 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law[32], and can. 1152 § 3 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[33]. However, in the delict mentioned in art. 6 §1 n. 1, prescription begins to run from the day on which a minor completes his eighteenth year of age.


Part Two
PROCEDURAL NORMS

Title I

The Constitution and Competence of the Tribunal

Art. 8
§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Supreme Apostolic Tribunal for the Latin Church as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches, for the judgment of the delicts defined in the preceding articles.

§ 2. This Supreme Tribunal also judges other delicts of which a defendant is accused by the Promotor of Justice, by reason of connection of person and complicity.

§ 3. The sentences of this Supreme Tribunal, rendered within the limits of its proper competence, do not need to be submitted for the approval of the Supreme Pontiff.


Art. 9
§ 1. The Members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are ipso iure the judges of this Supreme Tribunal.

§ 2. The Prefect of the Congregation pre­sides as first among equals over the college of the Members, and if the office of Prefect is va­cant or if the Prefect himself is impeded, the Secre­tary of the Congregation carries out his duties.

§ 3. It is the responsibility of the Prefect of the Congregation to nominate additional stable or deputed judges.


Art. 10
It is necessary that such appointed judges be priests, of mature age, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence and expertise in the law. Such priests may at the same time exercise a judicial or consultative function before another Dicastery of the Roman Curia.


Art. 11
To present and sustain an accusation a Promotor of Justice is to be appointed, who is to be a priest, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence, and expertise in the law. He is to carry out his office in all grades of judgment.


Art. 12
For the functions of Notary and Chan­cellor, priests are appointed, whether or not they are officials of this Congregation.


Art. 13
The role of Advocate or Procurator is carried out by a priest possessing a doctorate in canon law. He is to be approved by the presiding judge of the college.


Art. 14
Indeed, in the other tribunals dealing with cases under these norms, only priests can validly carry out the functions of Judge, Promotor of Justice, Notary, and Patron [Procurator and Advocate].


Art 15
With regard to the provisions of can. 1421 of the Code of Canon Law[34],and can. 1087 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[35], the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may dispense from the requirements of the priesthood and of a doctorate in Canon Law.


Art. 16
Whenever the Ordinary or Hierarch receives a report of a more grave delict, which has at least the semblance of truth, once the preliminary investigation has been completed, he is to communicate the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it calls the case to itself due to particular circumstances, will direct the Ordinary or Hierarch how to proceed further, with due regard, however, for the right to appeal, if the case warrents, against a sentence of the first instance only to the Supreme Tribunal of this same Congregation.


Art. 17
If a case is referred directly to the Congregation without a preliminary in­ves­tigation having been undertaken, the steps prelim­inary to the process, which fall by common law to the Ordinary or Hierarch, may be carried out by the Congregation itself.


Art. 18
With full respect for the right of defense, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may sanate acts in cases lawfully presented to it if merely procedural laws have been violated by lower Tribunals acting by mandate of the same Congregation or according to art. 16.


Art. 19
With due regard for the right of the Ordinary to impose from the outset of the preliminary investigation those measures which are established in can. 1722 of the Code of Canon Law[36], or in can. 1473 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[37], the respective presiding judge may, at the request of the Promotor of Justice, exercise the same power under the same conditions determined in the canons themselves.


Art. 20
The Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges in second instance:

1° cases adjudicated in first instance by lower tribunals;

2° cases decided by this same Supreme Apostolic Tribunal in first instance.


Title II

The Procedure to be followed in the Judicial Trial


Art. 21
§ 1. The more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are to be tried in a judicial process.

§ 2. However, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may:

1° decide, in individual cases, ex officio or when requested by the Ordinary or Hierarch, to proceed by extrajudicial decree, as provided in can. 1720 of the Code of Canon Law[38] and can. 1486 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches[39]. However, perpetual expiatory penalties may only be imposed by mandate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

2° present the most grave cases to the decision of the Roman Pontiff with regard to dismissal from the clerical state or deposition, together with dispensation from the law of celibacy, when it is manifestly evident that the delict was committed and after having given the guilty party the possibility of defending himself.


Art. 22
The Prefect is to constitute a turnus of three or five judges to try the case.


Art. 23
If in the appellate stage the Promotor of Justice brings forward a speci­fically dif­ferent accusation, this Supreme Tribunal can admit it and judge it as if at first instance.


Art. 24
§ 1. In cases concerning the delicts mentioned of in art. 4 §1, the Tribunal cannot indicate the name of the accuser to either the accused or his patron unless the accuser has expressly consented.

§ 2. This same Tribunal must consider the particular importance of the question concerning the credibility of the accuser.

§ 3. Nevertheless, it must always be observed that any danger of violating the sacramental seal be altogether avoided.


Art 25
If an incidental question arises, the college is to decide the matter by decree most expeditiously [expeditissime, cf. cann. 1629, n.5˚ CIC; 1310, n. 5˚ CCEO].


Art. 26
§ 1. With due regard for the right to appeal to this Supreme Tribunal, once an instance has been finished in any manner before another tribunal, all of the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as soon as possible.

§ 2 The right of the Promotor of Justice of the Congre­ga­tion to challenge a sentence runs from the day on which the sentence of first instance is made known to this same Promotor.


Art. 27
Recourse may be had against singular administrative acts which have been decreed or approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in cases of reserved delicts. Such recourse must be presented within the preemptory period of sixty canonical days to the Ordinary Session of the Congregation (the Feria IV) which will judge on the merits of the case and the lawfulness of the Decree. Any further recourse as mentioned in art. 123 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus is excluded[40].


Art. 28
A res iudicata occurs:

1° if a sentence has been rendered in second instance;

2° if an appeal against a sentence has not been proposed within a month;

3° if, in the appellate grade, the instance is abated or is renounced;

4° if the sentence has been rendered in accord with the norm of art.20.


Art. 29
§ 1. Judicial expenses are to be paid as the sentence has determined.

§ 2. If the defendant is not able to pay the expenses, they are to be paid by the Ordinary or Hierarch of the case.


Art. 30
§ 1. Cases of this nature are subject to the pontifical secret.[41]

§ 2. Whoever has violated the secret, whe­ther deliberately (ex dolo) or through grave neg­li­gence, and has caused some harm to the accused or to the witnesses, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty by the higher turnus at the insistence of the injured party or even ex officio.


Art. 31
In these cases, together with the prescripts of these norms, by which all Tribunals of the Latin Church and Eastern Catholic Churches are bound, the canons concerning delicts and penalties as well as the canons concerning the penal process of each Code also must be applied.




The document comes with 40 footnotes which the Vatican did not bother to translate from the Latin, so I am not including them here. They give references to original documents relating to the norms. The entire document in English is on
www.vatican.va/resources/resources_norme_en.html

The Norms as they were promulgated in 2001 were posted earlier on this thread with John Paul II's Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.




[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/07/2010 03.45]
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