Council of Cardinals considers creating regional tribunals for sexual abuse cases

National Catholic Reporter

February 28, 2018

By Joshua J. McElwee

The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy has considered how the Catholic Church can speed up its investigations of clergy sexual abuse cases, discussing as one possibility creation of regional tribunals to deal with a backlog of pending inquiries.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said at a Feb. 28 briefing such tribunals were “one of the options” considered by the Council of Cardinals at its latest Feb. 26-28 meeting, but that the matter had not yet been decided.

Burke emphasized that final authority for abuse cases would still rest with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is known to have a backlog of some 1,800 cases to investigate.

“It is not the simplest thing in the world,” the spokesman said about how to handle the backlog. “There are various options being studied.”

Beyond abuse cases, Burke said the Council of Cardinals also continued discussions on how there could be a “healthy decentralization” of authority across the wider Catholic Church. The spokesman said the prelates focused for some time in their latest meeting on the “theological nature” of the world’s episcopal conferences.

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