The Vatican’s Guidelines to Bishops for dealing with claims of priest sexual abuse has now been released.
Levada says that the Guidelines were drafted to “…facilitate the correct application” of the Pope’s previous instructions.
It is interesting that the Vatican has imposed a deadline on Bishop’s to respond. They are required to: “… send a copy of the completed Guidelines to the Congregation by the end of May 2012”.
So it appears that the Vatican wants to know what the various Bishops are doing and may even be planning on offering feedback or suggestions to the plans proposed by each Diocese.
Obeying the Law not Mandatory
But the Vatican stops short of ordering the Bishops to comply with laws requiring the reporting of sexual abuse of minors. The Guidelines state:
“Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed”.[Emphasis added]
Unfortunately the Vatican has missed yet another opportunity to take decisive action to address the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church.
The Guidelines recognize that child abuse is a crime. But the Vatican isn’t prepared to require Bishops to report crimes of sexual abuse.
Action or Window Dressing: What do you think?
By recommending that Bishops “should” comply with laws requiring reporting of crimes against children, instead of emphatically stating that Bishops MUST comply with the law, the Vatican shows that these Guidelines are more in the nature of a public relations exercise, rather than a legitimate attempt to address sexual abuse by priests.