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Vatican to publish guidance for bishops on abuse

By on Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced last year that a document was being prepared (Photo: CNS)

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced last year that a document was being prepared (Photo: CNS)

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has written a circular letter to bishops’ conferences around the world preparing policies and guidelines for dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse of children.

The Vatican press office announced today that it would release the text of the letter on Monday, May 16.

US Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, announced in November that his office, which co-ordinates the Church’s response to abuse cases, was preparing the document. He said it would help every bishops’ conference in the world design a “co-ordinated and effective programme” of child protection and of dealing with allegations.

The cardinal’s announcement about the letter came during a presentation to Pope Benedict XVI and to members of the College of Cardinals. According to a Vatican statement at the time, Cardinal Levada’s presentation included the Vatican’s conviction that Church leaders should collaborate with local law enforcement investigating abuse cases.

A Vatican official told the American Catholic News Service in November that the circular letter to bishops’ conferences would encourage reporting accusations to civil authorities but would not mandate reporting because in some countries just an accusation could prompt violence against a priest.

In November, the Vatican also said that during the discussion after Cardinal Levada’s presentation, bishops’ conferences were encouraged to develop “effective, quick, articulated, complete and decisive plans for the protection of children” and that those plans should look toward bringing perpetrators to justice and assisting victims, “including in countries where the problem has not manifested itself in as dramatic a way as in others”.

  • pk

    Well that’s about 30 years too late…

  • Jamie MacNab

    True, PK, but better late than never.

    Meanwhile, the secular world seems on course to abolish the very concept of abuse in this context. Its leaders will argue that children are naturally inclined to sexual activity ; they will present copious evidence ; they will even produce a gene to account for it. And, in view of all that, they will argue that it is a breach of a child’s human rights to deny …. Need we go on? We have seen it before.

  • Caisake

    That was a marvelous steps the church has take and may God send his Holy Spirit to all his clergy so that they may be worthy to make scarifies and their hand s be cleanse that daily touched His Scared Body

  • Smgenny

    i hope it is inclusive of clergy abuse of women abuse. There are as much adult women abuse as child sexual abuse of priests.

  • In Our Times

    Have we really Mr MacNab? How very reassuring it must be for you, to feel so ‘right’ & those evil secularists so very ‘wrong’. Following are just a few secularist organisations who tirelessly work toward the de-sexualisation of children & the prevention of abuse.It might be helpful if you consider who exactly your divisiveness serves the most. God? Your Church? Jesus Christ? Or perhaps yourself?
    Thanks to more ‘gauche’ programming such as Stop Pimping Our Kids on Channel Four I am now aware of the array of padded bras & bondage style clothing available for 11 year olds on the high-street & can avoid certain shops like hot coals.
    (CEOP – After 3 years of hard work recently uncovered a vast internet pedophile ring…)
    Yes, this is a start with the church; granted. However within state education in the UK there has been zero tolerance on this behaviour amongst employees for decades. It happened to me from the age of 14, with a PE teacher. When my Dad found out about it (uncovering ‘love’ letters & other such & following us around for a while), the proper people were informed & he was ejected from the teaching profession for good.
    My Dad never came closer to murder, he told me in the years to follow. They were all devastated; my family. The teacher only avoided prison because he did such an excellent job in encouraging me to lie; that our relationship hadn’t included sex. (What would happen to his daughters etc… if he went to prison?) I felt responsible & to blame.
    And nothing, not one thing; brings back the lives of a much loved Catholic uncle who wound up killing himself & the other of their siblings who slowly drank themselves to death. They had been subject to the vilest of abuse in childhood. Thanks to my Mums love & unwavering faith in God maybe, (not the church) & the efforts of ‘heretics’ ‘atheists’ & ‘secularists’; I have been able to work through some of this stuff & come out of the other side.
    Like I said in a previous post, it could almost be funny; what I’ve been through. You couldn’t write it for sure. 

    God Bless.

  • In Our Times
  • Jamie MacNab

     Thank you for your considered reply, IOT.  I am sorry to read of your troubles, of course, and deplore the conduct of the corrupting people you mention ; while being cheered by the help you received and by the efforts of those organisations you mention.

    All that, however, does not allay my fears for the way our society is moving, which is towards the greater sexualising of younger children.  In this respect, our great enemies are still making progress and the ‘secular society’ aids this substantially by effectively de-moralising what it calls ‘human behaviour’.

    It is all very scientific, to be sure, to see people as mere biological machines ; complicated, certainly, but still just machines that are obliged to obey the physical laws of nature.  And these laws are based, not on conscious moral principles, but on chance.  Thus people are the way they are because they have no choice.  Thus, strictly, nobody may be blamed for their deeds.

    For example, nearly two-hundred-thousand of the most innocent of all – the unborn children – are killed every year in our country alone.  The ‘secular society’ declares them to be unwanted (or defective) biological machines ; far from condemning the killings, it rewards the killers.  Far from discouraging younger people from unwise sexual conduct, it promotes it. 

    If I have painted a bleak outlook, it is for a purpose ; to point the way that the ‘secular society’ is moving.  If I am right, there is worse to come.

    You say that I am divisive.  If so, then I will not be first (or last) of such.  Again, if so, then perhaps you can tell me :  who am I dividing from whom?

    God bless you.

  • In Our Times

    Thanks for your reply Jamie. Who are you dividing from whom? Interesting question. The ‘first nor the last’ surely; but does that make it okay? I just don’t feel it’s helpful to generalise, in the interests of effective dialogue & understanding: when many people are in actual fact, batting for the same ‘team’ so to speak. (Good vs Evil maybe one could say).

    For instance, I read a thread somewhere stating that “Unitarians believe in abortion” & therefore is a position not to be considered or respected. My own religious convictions are Unitarian & I certainly do not “believe in abortion”. (I’ve been there too & would never willingly put myself through it again). 

    Regarding the “sexualising” of children the Age of Consent has never been higher than now, in actual fact. A brief overview at  

    Re murder of the unborn, I am certainly not belittling the Pro-Life efforts of the religious & non-religious (or either wishing to diminish the position of the Pro-Choice arguments either. Some of whom are Catholic groups I notice also). Things are very rarely that simple; however.

    So maybe what you mean then, specifically; are secular scientists; (of whom some are religious & some not & many with very differing ethical approaches). Regarding homosexuality for instance, scientists who are noticing this behaviour in almost every species of animal for example, deserve to be listened to. The church cannot declare any kind of ‘authority’ at all on that one. (“Revolutions” occur for all manner of reasons, frequently caused by undue or inhumane suppression…)
    And did the church & Christianity generally do anything constructive, for instance, in attempting to cease development of armory & weapons of mass destruction? If it did, I’d be interested in some direction on that one, as it interests me. We are living in a world where mass human extinction could occur in a heart-beat; regardless of who may be classed as innocent, unborn, good or evil. It wasn’t your bleakness per say, I felt compelled to comment upon. We most of us feel our fragility as a species. (Or we run & hide in all manner of directions).

    So, surely no ‘camp’ can truly claim the moral high-ground & to assume so is mere self-delusion. Maybe humanity will learn from its mistakes in time. Maybe not. My own ‘troubles’ are tiny in comparison to many. 

  • Jamie MacNab

     Thank you for an interesting discussion, IOT – despite my rather clumsy first comment.  I know that some bloggers consider me to be somewhat controversial, but I have a genuine interest in discovering what people really think ; and some commenters will insist on approaching religion in an unchanging legalistic manner which, of course, does more to conceal what they think, rather than reveal it.

    With regard to science, by the way, I think it is a most useful discipline for studying the non-living world – which is what is was designed for – but it can tell us almost nothing about moral behaviour.

    Thanks again.  God bless you.

  • AgingPapist

    Guidance from Rome after the horses have left the born is the last thing the bishops need from cardinal Levada and this pope. The bishops need to learn to obey the civil laws of their country and stop living in the middle ages thinking canon law trumps the power of the secular state.

    The entire hierarchy of the Roman Church should resign with the pope joining them.  They have disgraced themselves and their rendered authority meaningless to the point of being little more than theater.  A parade of cross-dressers obsessed with their own outmoded style of life who still entertain the false idea they’re relevant to the people in the pews. What a pathetic farce.

  • Anonymous


  • Weary Convert

    This latest document – at least as shown in press reports (see also the Irish Times) -  indicates that the Church hierarchies are still trying to retain in some form the medieval concept of “benefit of clergy” which medieval Popes fought ruthlessly to maintain. The fact is that, at least in the civilised West, priests and hierarchs are simply citizens with the same rights and duties as anyone else.  Since the laws on child abuse seem to be pretty clear in the West, why on earth do hierarchs need special rules for themselves alone? Presumably they are scared of seeing their money taken away and paid to their victims.

  • In Our Times

    Thank you Jamie, you are most gracious & thanks for reading. I agree with you to a certain extent, regarding science; but it is clearly obvious that concepts of morality have evolved in tandem with religious ideologies. (I’m sure not many of us would recommend ‘trepanning’ as a suitable treatment for migraine for instance. We may regard this now, as rather brutal & ‘immoral’. Merely one simplistic example…) God Bless.

  • Logmion Pilon

    Has The Rock been negligent, breached its duty of care or committed crimes against god? then tell us your truthful stories of abuse and neglect and your views.

    At C.1:Q.96, Nostradamus foretells of an iconoclastic prophet, using refined language to continually educate, who is raised in the Last Days.

    Logmion is here and says “Bring Back Petrus Romanus”.
    Facebook Logmion Pilon

  • Ihendricus

    Semoga dengan Vatkan menerbitkan bagi Uskup pada penyalahgunaan ini,Tuhan memberkati dan menurunkan Roh Kudus kepada semua Uskup dan Pastor