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Norms for allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests or deacons

I have been reading the revised norms and thinking about some of what I wrote about the earlier version on 15 June 2002.

My main concern was the lack of consistency with Canon Law, an area where this revision is greatly improved.

I also note the more limited scope of the new documents: its not presenting detailed instructions for "church personnel" but just priests and deacons.

I still have some concerns about what was 9C:

 If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g., for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the offender is to lead a life of prayer and penance. He will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly, to wear clerical garb, or to present himself publicly as a priest.

It has been slightly changed to as 8B:

B. If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied (e.g., for reasons of advanced age or infirmity), the offender ought to lead a life of prayer and penance. He will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to administer the sacraments. He is to be instructed not to wear clerical garb, or to present himself publicly as a priest.

Since June I have a better understanding what it means to "celebrate Mass publicly". Archbishop Pell, while being investigated decided to celebrate Mass privately, not in a Church. After the investigation he returned to the cathedral.

That someone who is in fact a priest should be instructed not to "present himself publicly as a priest" remains a challenging concept. But at least the new document details such administrative actions in footnotes 4 and 5.

Generally its pleasing to see what I wrote on 15 June: "Hopefully the Vatican will be able to clarify these issues and provide a better set of laws for the USA."

By J.R. Lilburne, 6 November 2002. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

Revised Norms at usscb.org