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Pope, cardinal advisers studying regional tribunals for abuse cases

February 28th, 2018 Posted in Vatican News Tags:


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of establishing regional tribunals around the world that would judge cases of sexual abuse allegedly committed by clergy, the Vatican spokesman said.

Greg Burke, the spokesman, confirmed a report published Feb. 27 on the website Vatican Insider that said the pope and his cardinal advisers were considering decentralizing the role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in handling cases, but would not diminish the congregation’s authority.

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Pope Francis apologizes for clerical sex abuse, promises tough sanctions


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — “I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests —large in number, but not in proportion to the total — have committed and to ask forgiveness for the damage they’ve done with the sexual abuse of children,” Pope Francis said.

“The church is aware of this damage” and is committed to strengthening child protection programs and punishing offenders, he told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau during a meeting April 11 at the Vatican.

Pope Francis leads a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 28. CNS/Paul Haring

The remarks appeared to be the pope’s first apology for the sex abuse scandal, following earlier statements affirming the Vatican’s work investigating and punishing perpetrators, and encouraging bishops to support abuse victims. The pope also has said the church deserves to be forced to make monetary settlements to victims.

In December, Pope Francis established a Vatican commission to promote improved child protections policies throughout the church.

Meeting with leaders of the International Catholic Child Bureau, an organization based in France and dedicated to defending children’s rights, Pope Francis said it was hard to believe “men of the church” would commit such horrors.

“We don’t want to take a step backward in dealing with this problem and with the sanctions that must be imposed,” the pope said. “On the contrary, I believe we must be very strong. You don’t play with children’s lives!”

Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of defending children’s right “to grow in a family with a mother and father able to create a healthy environment for their growth and affective maturity,” which includes “maturing in relationship to the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother.”

Parents have a right to determine the appropriate “moral and religious education” of their children, he said, and should not be subject to school curriculums that are thinly veiled courses of indoctrination into whatever ideology is strongest at the moment.

The pope said he wonders sometimes whether parents are “sending a child to school or to a re-education camp” like those run by dictatorial governments.

Obviously, he said, children need help in responding to the problems and challenges contemporary culture and the media raise. Young people can’t be kept in “glass jars,” but must be given the values that will help them evaluate what cultural trends respect their dignity and freedom and the dignity and freedom of others.


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Pope Francis prays for victims of sex abuse


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In his clearest public reference as pope to the subject of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis urged bishops to support abuse victims while also reaching out to priests who have “fallen short of their commitments.”

The pope made his remarks Dec. 2 to bishops from the Netherlands making their first visits “ad limina apostolorum” (“to the threshold of the apostles”) since they met with Blessed John Paul II in 2004.

Speaking in French, the pope brought up sex abuse near the end of his talk, in a section devoted to bishops’ care of priests under their authority.

“Like fathers, find the necessary time to welcome (your priests) and listen to them, every time they ask. And do not forget to go out to meet those who do not approach you; some of them unfortunately have fallen short of their commitments. In particular, I want to express my compassion and assure my prayers to all victims of sexual abuse and their families; I ask you to continue to support them along their painful path of healing, undertaken with courage,” the pope said.

It was Pope Francis’ most explicit reference to clerical sex abuse, in public or in a statement released by the Vatican, since his election in March.

According to a 2011 report by a Dutch government commission, as many as 20,000 children may have been abused in the country’s Catholic institutions between 1945 and 1981.

In his remarks to the pope, Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, president of the Dutch bishops’ conference, said the conference had established an independent foundation to assist victims.

“We are determined to recognize the problems of the victims, to compensate them for damages and help them to heal as much as possible,” the cardinal said.

Pope Francis also urged the bishops to promote church teaching on marriage and euthanasia through dialogue with the rest of society in the Netherlands, whose population is approximately 30 percent Catholic.

“In your society, strongly marked by secularization, I encourage you to be present in public debate, everywhere man is involved,” he said.

Pope Francis said the church “is sent everywhere to awaken, reawaken, sustain hope! Hence the importance of encouraging your faithful to seize occasions for dialogue, and be present in the places where the future is decided, so they can contribute to debates on the great social questions, for example, of family, marriage, the end of life.”

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2001, and permits physician-assisted suicide.

Cardinal Eijk told the pope that Catholics in the Netherlands have been steadily diminishing in number, and predicted that a “third of the Catholic churches in our country will be closed by 2020 and two thirds by 2025.”


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