January 28, 2005

Reviewing the abuse norms: U.S.-Vatican talks expected to be positive

Catholic News Service

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Two years after adopting special norms for dealing with priestly sex abusers, U.S. bishops and Vatican officials are sitting down in early February to review how the new policies have worked and to consider possible revisions.

Vatican officials described the meeting as a simple consultation. They said the talks were expected to be positive, reflecting progress made since the first major U.S.-Vatican meetings on sex abuse in 2002.

"The climate has matured. The norms have been in place for two years, and a lot of cases have been handled. On all sides, there is recognition that much has been accomplished," said one Vatican official.

The "Essential Norms" laid out a strict policy on priestly sex abuse, providing for removal from ministry or laicization of priests who have sexually abused minors. The Vatican approved the norms on an experimental basis for a two-year period beginning in March 2003; new Vatican approval, called a "recognitio," would presumably have to be given again this year, whether or not revisions are made.

Some Vatican sources said they do not expect major changes to the norms. They pointed to improved coordination on sex abuse cases over the last two years between U.S. bishops and the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was given special competence over such offenses.

Posted by kshaw at January 28, 2005 07:13 PM