Clergy Must Abide by Child Protection Guides

RTE News
February 8, 2012

Unacceptable for clergy not to abide by 'set standards'

'Extradordinary' testimony of Marie Collins

[with video]

The Vatican's chief prosecutor has said it is unacceptable for bishops or clergy not to abide by "set standards" on child protection within the church.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna said it was possible that clergy or bishops could face sanction under canon law if the non-application of set standards was a result of "malice or fraudulent negligence".

He added that disciplining bishops was a matter for Pope Benedict on a case-by-case basis.

It is unclear, however if Msgr Scicluna was suggesting that the non-observance of the 1996 Irish church guidelines on child protection, as was claimed in the Cloyne report, could have been a breach of canon law.

He also declined to comment on the claim by the Taoiseach that the Vatican had deliberately undermined the Irish church's guidelines in the Cloyne case.

Speaking at a symposium in Rome, Msgr Scicluna said the Holy See had already responded to the statement by the Taoiseach.

He also drew attention to what he described as the "extraordinary and courageous" testimony of the Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins.

It was a reminder he said of the need for the clergy to provide "full cooperation" with the civil authorities.

It is understood the Vatican may be envisaging a stricter application of "set standards" on child protection as part of a global overhaul of national guidelines to be carried out on Pope Benedict's instructions by the end of May.

However, the process may be hampered by the fact that different national congregations across the Catholic world are subject to widely varying civil laws.

Msgr Scicluna insisted that the church abide strictly to civil law in each country but he pointed out that mandatory reporting of child abuse cases was not a legal obligation in Ireland.

Earlier, Msgr Scicluna said that the Vatican had received 4,000 allegations of clerical sexual abuse of minors between 2001 and the end of 2011.


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