Questions and Answers Regarding the Canonical Process for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Ab
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The Media Relations Office and the Canon Law Society of America also will offer a one-day program on canonical issues for media, May 25, in Washington. Anyone seeking to attend should contact email@example.com. Cost is $50 for food and materials. Space is limited.
Questions and Answers Regarding the Canonical Process for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons
Q: Does the Church have its own laws against the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy?
A: Yes, the Church has long had laws on the books that address this crime. Even before the majority of the Church laws were collected into a single code of laws (in 1917 and in 1983), sins against the Sixth Commandment with a minor were also considered criminal acts. From 1917 onwards, the Church promulgated concise legal norms that stated this and that imposed penalties on clergy that offended in this terrible way.
Q: Which Church authority is responsible for addressing these offenses?
A: In April 2001, Pope John Paul II issued a law stating that, from then on, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, headed at the time by Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, would have sole Church authority over this crime. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is one of the offices that assist the Pope in fulfilling his mission as Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church. Prior to 2001, the crime was generally to be dealt with on the local level by the diocesan bishop. The CDF would have been involved if the offense had occurred on the occasion of the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (confession). Otherwise, the case would have gone for a second hearing (appeal from the diocese) to the Congregation for Clergy or the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, offices that assist the Pope, depending on how the allegation had been resolved on the local level.