Vatican’s Abuse Guidelines: Action or Window Dressing?

by John McKiggan

The Vatican’s Guidelines to Bishops for dealing with claims of priest sexual abuse has now been released.

Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also released a brief letter accompanying the Guidelines.

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.

3 Responses to “Vatican’s Abuse Guidelines: Action or Window Dressing?”

December 31, 1969 at 6:00 pm, DR. HENRY said:

Your headline question answers itself correctly. Window Dressing and more deceit and temporary wiggle room. Eventually international law will catch up with this corrupt institution. “By their fruits shall ye know them”. We are called to be fruit inspectors. It has taken sixteen centuries of rot to bring these issues to a head.

December 31, 1969 at 6:00 pm, Augusta Wynn said:

Please let us not forget Cardinal Levada’s personal history with overseeing policies regarding clergy sex abuse of children. While Archbishop of San Francisco, William Cardinal Levada appointed Father Gregory Ingels as his chief canon lawyer.

May 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm, Veronica Abbass said:

In “Politics and the English Language,” (1946) George Orwell says “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”

Comments are closed.

  • badges