New Vatican directive highlights past failures in handling abuse cases

’ Without clear policy to the contrary 20 years ago, church authorities were able to hush up priest’s sex assaults’

'The Vatican for the first time this week published an explicit directive to Roman Catholic bishops to report suspected clerical sex assaults to civil authorities.

The injunction – coming in the midst of the continuing international furor over the church’s management of abuse of young people by its priests – brings into sharp relief how the case of former Ontario priest Bernard Prince was handled 20 years ago. In a rigidly hierarchical institution like the Catholic Church, without clear Vatican policy to the contrary, Canadian Catholic authorities and Vatican officials as late as 1993 tried to hush up reports of Mr. Prince’s sexual behaviour.’

Your thread title is very misleading. This is not a new directive. The only thing new is that it is on the Vatican’s web site. This was a 2001 update to proceedures that were in place that were deemed to need improvement.

I didn’t create the title of the thread…it is the exact title of the article in the Globe and Mail.

The Pontiff had his chance to control this problem years age but left it in the hand of hos bishops to stop the ‘‘bleeding’’ Now that we have Pope Benidect XVl in charge, we can expect to see the offenders punished. The one thing that I would like to see is a uniform seminary program and training and investigation of the personal holiness of each candidate.
Do you think that women priests are the answer? They would have watched each other more closely, is that nexcessary? When I was a kid, I thought that the priest was ‘Jesus’.
I sure wish we could get back to that idea again…:):):):):):slight_smile:

A sin more grave than sexual abuse would certain not be the answer. The moral choice is always for the good not to trade one sin for another. The ordination of women would be a sin against a dogma. This has been handed downt to us by all 22 Catholic Churches and the 21 Orthodox Churches. All have Apostolic Succession. The ordination of women would be a sin of heresy and apostasy. It would be a grave violation of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We cannot even speculate on violating the sacraments to cure this problem.

As to years ago, Pope John Paul left the problems for bishops to fix, because Canon Law says that this is their responsibililty. It was also Pope John Paul who transferred that authority to the Sacred Congregation of the Faith in 2001, when he saw that the bishops could not fix it on their own.

The policies and procedures for dismissing and punishing abusive priests were created by Pope John Paul, not by Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict was the enforcer, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. But Pope John Paul was the authority behind the policy. It is unfair to insinuate that Pope John Paul did not do anything and give all the credit to Pope Benedict. The two of them worked on this as a team. Pope Benedict has continued working on this issue, because he was on the front line when Pope John Paul ammended canon law in 2001 to expedite the dismissal of sexually abusive priests and religious. It was alos Pope John Paul who directed the bishops to report the problem to the civil authorities. He assigned Cardinal Ratzinger to enforce the law. Cardinal Ratzinger assigned several Cardinals, bishops and monsignors to get the job done. That’s how the process happened.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a far greater sin than ordaining a woman. :frowning:

Both are very grave sins. The sexual abuse of children can never be minimized. That’s not my intent here. As I said, it is a grave sin against human dignity, innocence and creation itself.

The ordination of women would be apostasy. I would mean that the Church has abandoned revealed truth.

Placed in a hierarchy, abandoning revealed truth is the greater of two very grave sins. I can understand a peson’s reaction this statement, because the sexual abuse of minors disturbs our passions and engages us at a very emotional level, especially if one is a non-believer. A non-believer would have great difficulty understanding the gravity of apostacy.

But if you examine the two sins very objectively, once you abandon revealed truth, then everything else goes out the window.

The solution is never to fix a sin with another sin, but to fix a sin with a revealed good. The ordination of women is not a revealed good. Do you see what I mean?


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Then you participated in its error. You didn’t create the headline but you used it to create the title of the thread.
Rather than quibble about details… corki’s point was clear: this is not a “new” policy.

Barry wrote: The one thing that I would like to see is a uniform seminary program and training and investigation of the personal holiness of each candidate.

I agree 100%, Barry. A flawed selection process and possible perverted seminaries is where the problem started, imo.

In the News Forums, the OP of a new thread is required to use the headline of the linked news article as the title of the thread. Zatzat can hardly be blamed for following a forum rule.

I acknowledge that and I never said that Zatzat was being misleading only that the title was misleading with respect to the facts.

However, of the many dozens of news articles about the Vatican’s newly added web link, this was one that misrepresented the facts. There were many others that could have been chosen that would have been more accurate. Also, Zatzat’s comments following the link reiterated the erroneous claims. Zatzat evidently fell for the journalist’s misrepresentation and was passing it along. :frowning:

I disagree. They are different kinds of sin. You can’t say one is greater than the other since there is no way to compare them. Exploitation of children is gravely sinful and has a ripple effect that is damaging to many people and to the Church. The attempted ordination of women would be (and is) gravely sinful, a direct attack against a teaching of the Church and damaging to potentially millions of people. The ordination has the additional grave matter of being the public, sinful act of a Bishop.

The seminaries were indeed flawed, in fact “flawed” doesn’t really describe what was going on in seminaries starting (I believe) in the early 1950’s. The book “Goodbye Good Men” will shed a lot of light on the issue. I do believe, however, that there has been at least somewhat of a campaign in recent years to clean them up, maybe even substantially. But I do believe that the seminaries were the root of the problem. The young priests now coming out of seminaries are a completely different animal than the earlier bunch. Thanks be to God!!

Absolutely right. I stand corrected. My apologies.

But like corki, I think the original headline is misleading.

Barry wrote: The one thing that I would like to see is a uniform seminary program and training and investigation of the personal holiness of each candidate.

Just a clarification here, because I’m sure that most lay people are not aware of this. We cannot have a uniform seminary program around the world, because it would violate doctrine and canon law.

There are many religious orders that are what is called Exempt Religious Orders. This was established in the 13th century when St. Bernard argued that Christ had revealed religious life as distinct from the secular priesthood. After careful reflection on scripture, Pope Innocent II agreed that St. Bernard was right and that religious orders could not be subjected to the same disciplines as secular priests nor could they be subjected to the bishops, but the voice of Christ speaks to them through their major superior and the pope.

Since then, canon law was ammended and it does not include the formation of men who belong to religious orders. It only covers the general rules pertaining to religious life: who can enter, the effects of the vows, the duration of the novitiate, the requirements for a valid profession of vows, the legal authority of superiors and juridical points, but not formation. Canon law leaves that to the determination of the founder and major superior of each order.

The decision to give this autonomy to religious is based on a scriptural doctrine, the religious life and the secular priesthood are not the same. So when a religious is permitted to become a priest, it is up to the superior of his community to design his formation program so that it meets the minimal expectations that the Church has for priests. The fact is that most religious who become priests have very good academic formation in theology and philosophy. By that I mean, more than the minimum. All religious orders require at least a four-year masters degree in theology. Most master’s degrees are two years.

As far as secular priests are concerned, there is no biblical reason why you can’t have a uniform seminary formation program, but there is a canonical reason. Bishops are heads of Churches. Secular priests belong to a particular church called a diocese. Therefore, the bishops cannot impose on each other their formation requirements. Each bishop is a head of his Church. There is a Sacred Congregation for priests that gives general guidelines as to the spiritual and academic formation of priests. From there the bishops and the religious superiors take their cue.

If the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, which is its proper name, decided that all diocesan priests must have the exact same formation program, that would create a very difficult challenge to follow, because education programs vary from one country to another. The world does not have a uniform education system. You have to allow the local authorities of each diocese to design a formation program that builds on the academic formation that the person brings when they enter. That foundational academic formation is going to be different from country to country. You really cannot legislate a uniform formaton program.

The best that you can do is legislate the spiritual qualities that you’re looking for in your priests. This has been done several times in history by different encyclicals and different councils. It’s really a matter of the bishops and the religious superiors to make sure that those spiritual values and qualities are present in their men.

In the case of religious, this is less of a problem. No religious can become a priest until he has finished his religious formation. This means that he goes through at least 7 years of religious formation, then makes perpetual vows. Only after he has made perpetual vows, does the major superior give him permission to become a priest, if the major superior believes that the person has a vocation to the priesthood. The superior is the voice of Christ. Christ decides who becomes a religious and a priest. Chirst may decide that you be a religious, but not a priest or a priest, but not a religious.

During those seven years, the major superior and the formators are looking at you very closely. They are looking for specific spiritual qualities, particularly that you embody the spirituality of the founder. If you do not have those qualities, you are not allowed to remain in the order. On the other hand, if you have those qualities you may remain in the order. But there is no guarrantee that a religious will become a priest. Only Christ can decide this and Christ speaks only through the superior and the pope. This is an accepted doctrine in the theology of religious life for men. It was handed down to us through tradition.

You see how this works?


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Yes I do. :thumbsup:

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