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Church must respect local law in abuse cases: Vatican

The Catholic Church must respect local laws when handling child abuse cases.

Rome: The Catholic Church must respect local
laws when handling child abuse cases, the Vatican`s chief
spokesman said today, two days after the Holy See issued new
rules against paedophile priests.

The new rules "represent an indispensible guide for a
large community, like the Catholic Church, which must have
common standards autonomous of those of the countries in which
its is present," Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying
by ANSA news agency.

"However, it is obvious that in these countries just
civil laws must be respected and applied to men of the church,
as on the part of each citizen, equally in regard to crimes of
abuse," said Lombardi.

The new set of Vatican rules published Thursday promised
an acceleration of internal investigations and extension by a
decade of the statute of limitations in abuse cases.

But they do not deal with handing abusers over to civil
criminal authorities, a key demand of advocacy groups.

After the publication, Lombardi said compliance with
civil law was already contained in guidelines published in
April at the height of the abuse scandals sweeping the Church.

The new rules mainly update a 2001 document dealing with
"serious crimes" that was prepared by Pope Benedict XVI, who
as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was at the head of the Vatican`s
chief moral enforcer, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith (CDF).

Paedophile priest scandals and allegations of high-level
cover-ups that swept Australia and the United States in 2004
have surged again since last year and rocked the Catholic
Church in Europe and the United States.

The pope himself has faced allegations that, as
archbishop of Munich and later as the head of the CDF, he
helped to protect predator priests.


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