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  VATICAN NORMS GOVERNING GRAVE OFFENSES, INCLUDING SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS

[This translation of “"Normae de gravioribus delictis Congregationi pro Doctrina Fidei reservatis” was posted by the National Catholic Reporter on November 22, 2002 at
http://www.natcath.org/NCR_Online/documents/CDFnorms.htm. The Latin text is not publicly available. These Norms are an attachment to the apostolic letter Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, but when that letter was published (in Latin) in Acta Apostolicae Sedis on November 5, 2001, the Norms were not published with the letter.]

The following is an unofficial English translation from the original Latin.

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), examines the more grave delicts committed both against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments and, where it has done this work, proceeds to the declaration or dispensation of canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law, with due regard for the competence of the Apostolic Penitentiary(7) and in keeping with Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine.(8)

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

Art. 2

§1. The delicts against the sanctity of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice and Sacrament reserved for examination by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

1° the taking or retaining for a sacrilegious purpose, or the throwing away of the consecrated species (9) spoken of in can.1367 of the Code of Canon Law (10) and in can. 1442 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;(11)

2° attempting the liturgical action of the Eucharistic Sacrifice spoken of in can. 1378, §2, no.1, of the Code of Canon Law, (12) sacerdotal order…or the simulation of the same, spoken of in can.1379 of the Code of Canon Law (13) and in can.1443) of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;(14)

3° the prohibited concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in can. 908 of the Code of Canon Law (15) and in can. 702 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, (16) spoken of 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 or 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 of both outside of the Eucharistic celebration. (19) One who perpetrates 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 are:

1° the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, spoken of 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)

2° solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue in the act or on the occasion or in the pretext of confession spoken of 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.

3° a direct violation of the sacramental seal, spoken of 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)

Art. 4

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

§2. One who perpetrates the delict spoken of in 1 is to be punished for the gravity of the offense not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Art. 5

§1. A criminal action for delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of ten years. (26)

§2. Prescription runs according to the norm of can. 1362, §2, of the Code of Canon Law and can. 1152, §3, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. (27) In the delict however spoken of in art. 4, §1, prescription begins to run from the day on which a minor reaches 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 also for the Eastern Catholic Churches for examining the delicts defined in the preceding articles.

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

§3. The sentences of this Supreme Tribunal, rendered within the limits of its proper competence, are not subject to the approval of the Supreme Pontiff.

Art. 7

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

§2. The Prefect of the Congregation presides as first among equals over the college of the Fathers, 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 stable or deputed judges.

Art. 8

It is necessary that nominated judges be priests, of mature age, possessed of a doctorate in canon law, endowed with good morals, prudence and an expertise in the law, even though they may simultaneously 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 constituted, who is to be a priest, possessed of a doctorate in canon law, endowed with good morals, prudence and an expertise in the law, who may carry out his office in all grades of judgement.

Art. 10

For the work of Notary and Chancellor, priests are appointed, either Officials of this Congregation or external.

Art. 11

A priest, possessed of a doctorate in canon law and who is approved by the Presiding Judge of the college, functions in the role of Advocate or Procurator.

Art. 12

In other Tribunals, however, in cases involving these norms, only priests can validly carry out the functions of Judge, Promoter of Justice, Notary, and Patron.

Art. 13

As often as the Ordinary or Hierarch has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, once the preliminary investigation has been undertaken, he is to transmit this to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it calls the case to itself due to particular associated conditions, will order the Ordinary or Hierarch to proceed to a conclusion, with due regard, nevertheless, for the right of appealing against a sentence of the first grade to the Supreme Tribunal of this same Congregation.

Art. 14

If a case is referred directly to the Congregation, once the preliminary investigation has been undertaken, the preliminary works of 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 of imposing that which is stated in can. 1722 of the Code of Canon Law (28) or in can. 1473 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, (29) the Presiding Judge of the Tribunal for the turnus, at the insistence of the Promoter of Justice, has 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:

1° cases adjudicated in first instance by inferior tribunals;

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

Title II
The Order of Adjudication


Art. 17

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

Art. 18

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

Art. 19

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

Art. 20

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

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

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

Art. 21

If an incidental question arises, the College is to decide the matter by decree most expeditiously.

Art. 22

§1. With due regard of the right to appeal to this Supreme Tribunal, once an instance has been completed in some manner before another Tribunal, all of the acts of the case are to be transmitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ex officio at once.

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

Art. 23

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. 16.

Art. 24

§1. Judicial expenses are resolved as the sentence has determined.

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

Art. 25

§1. Cases of this nature are subject to pontifical secrecy. (30)

§2. Whoever has violated the secrecy, whether by malice (ex dolo) or through grave negligence, and causes 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. 26

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

Notes

(6) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, June 28, 1988, art. 52, in AAS 80 (1988) 874: “The Congregation examines offenses against the faith and more serious ones both against morals or in the celebration of the sacraments which have been reported to it and, if need be, proceeds to the declaration or imposition of canonical sanctions in accordance with the norms of common or proper law.”

(7) POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, June 28, 1988, art. 118, in AAS 80 (1988) 890: “For the internal forum, whether sacramental or non-sacramental, it grants absolutions, dispensation, commutations, validations, condonations and other favors.”

(8) CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine, June 29, 1997, in AAS 89 (1997) 830-835.

(9) PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE INTERPRETATION OF LEGISLATIVE TEXTS, Response to a proposed doubt, June 4, 1999, in AAS 91 (1999) 918:
D. Whether or not the word “abicere” in canons 1367 CIC and 1442 CCEO should be understood only as the act of throwing away.
R. Negative and ad mentem.
The “mind” is that the word “abicere” should be considered to include any voluntarily and gravely contemptuous action towards the Sacred Species.

(10) Code of Canon Law, can. 1367 - A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.

(11) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1442 - A person who has thrown away the Divine Eucharist or taken or retained it for a sacrilegious purpose is to be punished with a major excommunication and, if a cleric, also with other penalties not excluding deposition.

(12) Code of Canon Law, can. 1378-§2. The following incur a latae sententiae penalty of interdict or, if a cleric, a latae sententiae penalty of suspension:
1° a person who attempts the liturgical action of the Eucharistic sacrifice though not promoted to the …

(13) Code of Canon Law, can. 1379-In addition to the cases mentioned in can. 1378, a person who simulates the administration of a sacrament is to be punished with a just penalty.

(14) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1443 - A person who has simulated the celebration of the Divine Liturgy or other sacraments is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding a major excommunication.

(15) Code of Canon Law, can. 908 - Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of churches or ecclesial communities which do not have full communion with the Catholic church.

(16) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 702 - Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with non-Catholic priests or ministers.

(17) Code of Canon Law, can. 1365 - A person guilty of prohibited participation in sacred rites (communicatio in sacris) is to be punished with a just penalty.

(18) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1440-A person who violates the norms of law concerning participation in sacred rites (communicatio in sacris) can be punished with an appropriate penalty.

(19) Code of Canon Law, can. 927 - It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both outside the eucharistic celebration.

(20) Code of Canon Law, can. 1378-§1. A priest who acts against the prescript of can. 977 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

(21) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1457-A priest who has absolved an accomplice in a sin against chastity is to be punished with a major excommunication, with due regard for canon 728, §1, n.2.

(22) Code of Canon Law, can. 1387-A priest who in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession solicits a penitent to sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is to be punished, according to the gravity of the delict, by suspension, prohibitions, and privations; in graver cases he is to be dismissed from the clerical state.

(23) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1458-A priest who in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession, has solicited a penitent to sin against chastity, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding deposition.

(24) Code of Canon Law, canon 1388-§1. A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; one who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict.

(25) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1456-§1. A confessor who has directly violated the sacramental seal is to be punished with a major excommunication, with due regard for canon 728, §1, n.1; however, if he broke this deal in another manner, he is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.

(26) Code of Canon Law, can 1362-§1. Prescription extinguishes a criminal action after three years unless it concerns:
1° delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith…

(27) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1152-§2. A penal action is extinguished by prescription after three years, unless it is a question of:
1° delicts reserved to the Apostolic See…

(28) Code of Canon Law, can. 1722 - To prevent scandals, to protect the freedom of witnesses, and to guard the course of justice, the ordinary, after having heard the promoter of justice and cited the accused, at any stage of the process can exclude the accused from the sacred ministry or from some office and ecclesiastical function, can impose or forbid residence in some place or territory, or even can prohibit public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist. Once the cause ceases, all these measures must be revoked; they also end by the law itself when the penal process ceases.

(29) Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 1473 - To prevent scandals, to protect the freedom of witnesses, and to guard the course of justice, the hierarch, after having heard the promoter of justice and cited the accused, at any stage and grade of the penal trial can exclude the accused from the exercise of sacred orders, an office, a ministry, or another function, can impose or forbid residence in some place or territory, or even can prohibit public reception of the Divine Eucharist. Once the cause ceases, all these measures must be revoked and they will end by the law itself when the penal trial ceases.

(30) SECRETARY OF STATE, Rescript from an Audience of the Holy Father, “The February 4,” by which the general Ordering of the Roman Curia is set forth, April 30, 1999, “The General Regulations of the Roman Curia,” April 30, 1999, art. 36 §2, in AAS 91(1999)646: “With particular care, pontifical secrecy will be observed, according the norm of the Instruction Secreta continere of February 4, 1974.”
THE PAPAL SECRETARY OF STATE, Rescript from an Audience, the Instruction Secreta continere, Concerning Pontifical Secrecy, February 4, 1974, in AAS 66 (1974) 89-92:
“Art. 1. Included under pontifical secrecy are:…
4. Extrajudicial denunciations received regarding delicts against faith and against morals, and regarding delicts perpetrated against the sacrament of Penance. Likewise the process and decision which pertain to those denunciations, always safeguarding the right of one who has been reported to authorities to know of the denunciation if such knowledge is necessary for his own defense. However, it will be permissible to make known the name of the denouncer then only when authorities think it opportune that the denounced and the denouncer come face to face;…”(p.90)

 
 

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