Vatican studying ways to speed up sexual abuse cases


February 28, 2018

By Philip Pullella

Pope Francis is studying how to speed up the handling of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, the Vatican said on Wednesday, after a high-profile case in Chile put a new spotlight on the scandal.

The topic was a main point of discussion in three days of meetings between the pope and a group of nine cardinals from the around the world who gather four times a year at the Vatican to discuss reform, Church finances and other issues.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said they had discussed “various options” to shorten procedures in cases of abuse.

They are currently handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s doctrinal department.

Burke said that among the options discussed was to decentralize procedures by setting up regional tribunals that would hear cases under the auspices and guidance of the CDF.

The CDF hears canonical cases, applying Church laws that could lead to the defrocking of accused priests if found guilty. The Church procedures are distinct from criminal procedures in civilian courts in places where the crime is committed.

Cardinal Sean O‘Malley of Boston, the city where the worldwide crisis of sexual abuse first exploded, and a key adviser of the pope, is studying the decentralization proposal.

The proposal followed intense criticism of the pope for defending a bishop in Chile accused of covering up sexual abuse.

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