Fr Federico Lombardi: New norms, a long road With the publication
of new norms to deal with and punish crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of
the clergy, the Church has taken an important step in addressing the question with
responses that will be lasting and have a profound impact. Clear and well-known laws
are an essential guide for any large community, such as the Catholic Church, which
must have its own common rules, separate from those of the many different countries
in which it is present.
Countries in which, however, the just civil laws must
obviously be respected and put into practise by men of the Church, as by every citizen,
including the crimes of abuse. With the new canonical norms, trials can become
quicker and more effective, the ecclesiastical tribunals will be augmented by competent
lay personnel, the statute of limitations has been doubled and there is scope for
its further extension, the severity of cases of abuse on adults with a limited use
of reason and child pornography are explicitly taken into consideration.
course, law is necessary, but it is not everything. There is a commitment to education,
the formation of clergy and staff who work in institutions linked to the Church, information
and prevention, dialogue with and personal care for the victims ... A huge area in
which the Church has mobilized itself, as desired by the Pope, in many countries.
For its part, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continues to work to
give aid to local bishops in formulating coherent and effective directives. The new
law is important, but we know that our commitment to a purer and more evangelical
witness must be a long journey.