Vatican to issue guidelines to combat child abuse
Vatican City: The Vatican will shortly
circulate a letter to bishops worldwide with guidance on
combating child sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, a
Vatican source said.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body in charge of Church
dogma, announced in November that such a document was being
The cardinal said the circular would include
"directives" relating to the "reception of victims", working
with civil authorities, protecting children and the training
of future priests.
The Vatican is under pressure to produce the
guidelines at the request of a US civil court which is
examining the Holy See's role as "employer" in the case of a
priest accused of child sex abuse.
The Holy See has meanwhile announced sanctions against
Canadian Raymond Lahey, an ex-bishop who pleaded guilty to
child pornography charges.
It has been criticised however for not taking action
against former Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted
ill-treating his nephews.
The publication in Ireland in 2009 of a shocking
report documenting hundreds of cases of child abuse by priests
and systematic cover-up efforts by senior clergy plunged the
Church into its worst crisis in many years.
There have since been hundreds more revelations across
the United States and Europe.
In July last year, at the height of the child abuse
scandal, the Church announced that it was working on
recommendations "designed to make more rigorous, coherent and
effective the directives already in place."
Pope Benedict XVI has condemned sex abuse crimes with
growing intensity, has met with victims and has tightened
Church rules for dealing with abusers.
But campaigners such as the US-based abuse victims
group, Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP),
say the Church has not done nearly enough.
Victims' organisations have accused Pope Benedict
XVI's predecessor John Paul II of failing to address the issue
of high-ranking clergy protecting predator priests.