Back to homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online BostonWorks Real Estate Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
 Latest coverage

April 2
Springfield bishop apologizes

March 19
Priests named to guide church

March 10
New bishops for two dioceses

February 24
Sniezyk clarifies his remarks

February 23
Prelate: Harm unrecognized

January 15, 2004
O'Malley vows to help victims

January 11, 2004
Study faults Melkite church

January 7, 2004
Audit finds safeguards working
Boston's inquiry presses on
Agents faced reluctant aides

January 6, 2004
Church could defrock priests

November 30
Morrisey reflects on scandal

November 20
Policies on VOTF reconsidered

NOvember 13
Bishops affirm sex teachings

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Review of new rules not set

By Jason Horowitz, Globe Correspondent, 6/22/2002

ROME - The Vatican, known for its deliberate and painstaking approach to any alteration of church policy, has not set an official time frame to review the American Catholic Church's newly adopted zero-tolerance policy toward priests who sexually abuse minors.

While the policy, called the ''Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,'' is morally binding in the 194 US archdioceses, it needs Vatican approval before it can become enforceable church law. But Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican's press office, said Thursday, ''We will take all the time that we need'' to assess the proposal.

The charter's 17 articles have been distilled to a separate legal document that will undergo examination by at least five Vatican offices, whose leaders include some of the most powerful names in the Vatican governing body.

They are Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Colombia, of the Congregation for Clergy; Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re of Italy, the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez of Chile, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; and Archbishop Julian Herranz of Spain, of the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.

The review board is not necessarily limited to five members, and Benedettini said that experts from outside the curia could be called to testify.

It is unlikely that John Paul II will preside over the meetings, although his signature is required on any final decision. His role may depend on how hard American cardinals push for his involvement.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and one of the three US cardinals posted in the Vatican curia, said that so far he had not been contacted about joining the meeting but pointed out that the Vatican still hadn't officially received the requests for changes in church law.

''The key is that the letter is what the bishops are hoping to get from the Holy See,'' Stafford said. ''I'm not sure that even the bishops are positive what they will be asking yet.''

Before the review board can begin its official assessment, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, must personally deliver the ''norms'' to the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. That will happen within a few days, according to one Vatican official.

Gregory's visit follows last week's conference in Dallas and is indicative of the American bishops' desire to capitalize on the momentum of the 230-13 vote in favor of a national policy that seeks to remove from duty any priest who ever abused a minor.

But the Vatican is known for its slow pace on policy matters. Even Sodano, the man who will accept the norms on behalf of the Vatican and pass them to the five offices, said that he ''wouldn't know'' when to expect Gregory, and referred all queries to the Holy See press office.

Rome's oppressive heat during August may influence how quickly the proposal is addressed, Vatican watchers said, because much of the city shuts down, and the Vatican reduces its staff during the month.

Some Vatican officials have voiced concern about parts of the policy, which could slow the process, but Gregory said he is confident that the Vatican will go ahead with the document because ''the Holy See is very much aware of the severity of this crisis.''

This story ran on page A4 of the Boston Globe on 6/22/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing LLC.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy