Vatican releases revised priest abuse guidelines

According to the AP (7/15), the Vatican has issued a revised set of church guidelines in response to the clerical sex abuse scandal. The new rules appear to widen the scope of behaviors that will qualify as criminal under canon law, especially in how they target priests who molest the mentally disabled, but introduce few substantive policy changes. For instance, the new rules fail to require bishops to report suspected or known sex abuse to the police, provide no sanction for bishops who fail to punish abusers and do nothing to move towards the “one strike and you’re out” policy supported by many of those attacking the church’s position on sexual abuse.

The Vatican also doubled the statute of limitations in abuse cases to 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, increasing the time frame for an accuser to come forward and seek to have an abusive priest removed from the ministry. Vatican officials claim that merely changing the rules will not halt clerical sex abuse, but it will provide necessary tools to those whose job it is to put a stop to it.