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Archive for the ‘Canon Law’ Category

When a cleric is found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor what canonical measures can be applied?

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The canonical measures applied in dealing with a cleric found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor are generally of two kinds: 1) measures which completely restrict public ministry or at least exclude the cleric from any contact with minors. These measures can be reinforced with a penal precept; 2) ecclesiastical penalties, among which the most grave is the dismissal from the clerical state.

In some cases, at the request of the cleric himself, a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy, can be given pro bono Ecclesiae.

Circular Letter, To Assist Episcopal Conferences In Developing Guidelines  For Dealing With Cases Of Sexual Abuses Of Minors Perpetrated By Clerics, Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 May 2011

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html

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Who is responsible for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors?

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The responsibility for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors belongs, in the first place, to Bishops or Major Superiors. If an accusation seems true the Bishop or Major Superior, or a delegate, ought to carry out the preliminary investigation in accord with CIC can. 1717, CCEO can. 1468, and SST art. 16.

If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defense, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims. In this regard, it should be noted that normally the imposition of a permanent penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, requires a penal judicial process. In accord with canon law (cf. CIC can. 1342) the Ordinary is not able to decree permanent penalties by extrajudicial decree. The matter must be referred to the CDF which will make the definitive judgement on the guilt of the cleric and his unsuitability for ministry, as well as the consequent imposition of a perpetual penalty (SST art. 21, §2).

Circular Letter, To Assist Episcopal Conferences In Developing Guidelines  For Dealing With Cases Of Sexual Abuses Of Minors Perpetrated By Clerics, Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 May 2011

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html

What is the prescription of a criminal action against perpetrator of crime against minors

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The extension of the term of prescription of a criminal action to twenty years, maintaining the right of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to derogate from prescription on a case by case basis (art. 7).

A brief introduction to the modifications made in the Normae de gravioribus delictis, reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, given at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 21 May 2010.

http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_rel-modifiche_en.html

Written by Erineus

April 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

What are some considerations in dealing with sexual crime against minors

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I. General considerations:

a) The victims of sexual abuse:

The Church, in the person of the Bishop or his delegate, should be prepared to listen to the victims and their families, and to be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. In the course of his Apostolic trips our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has given an eminent model of this with his availability to meet with and listen to the victims of sexual abuse. In these encounters the Holy Father has focused his attention on the victims with words of compassion and support, as we read in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland (n.6): “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”

b) The protection of minors:

In some countries programs of education and prevention have been begun within the Church in order to ensure “safe environments” for minors. Such programs seek to help parents as well as those engaged in pastoral work and schools to recognize the signs of abuse and to take appropriate measures. These programs have often been seen as models in the commitment to eliminate cases of sexual abuse of minors in society today.

c) The formation of future priests and religious:

In 2002, Pope John Paul II stated, “there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young” (n. 3, Address to the American Cardinals, 23 April 2002). These words call to mind the specific responsibility of Bishops and Major Superiors and all those responsible for the formation of future priests and religious. The directions given in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis as well as the instructions of the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See take on an even greater importance in assuring a proper discernment of vocations as well as a healthy human and spiritual formation of candidates. In particular, candidates should be formed in an appreciation of chastity and celibacy, and the responsibility of the cleric for spiritual fatherhood. Formation should also assure that the candidates have an appreciation of the Church’s discipline in these matters. More specific directions can be integrated into the formation programs of seminaries and houses of formation through the respective Ratio institutionis sacerdotalis of each nation, Institute of Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life.

Particular attention, moreover, is to be given to the necessary exchange of information in regard to those candidates to priesthood or religious life who transfer from one seminary to another, between different dioceses, or between religious Institutes and dioceses.

d) Support of Priests

1. The bishop has the duty to treat all his priests as father and brother. With special attention, moreover, the bishop should care for the continuing formation of the clergy, especially in the first years after Ordination, promoting the importance of prayer and the mutual support of priestly fraternity. Priests are to be well informed of the damage done to victims of clerical sexual abuse. They should also be aware of their own responsibilities in this regard in both canon and civil law. They should as well be helped to recognize the potential signs of abuse perpetrated by anyone in relation to minors;

2. In dealing with cases of abuse which have been denounced to them the bishops are to follow as thoroughly as possible the discipline of canon and civil law, with respect for the rights of all parties;

3. The accused cleric is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven. Nonetheless the bishop is always able to limit the exercise of the cleric’s ministry until the accusations are clarified. If the case so warrants, whatever measures can be taken to rehabilitate the good name of a cleric wrongly accused should be done.

e) Cooperation with Civil Authority

Sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities. Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed. This collaboration, moreover, not only concerns cases of abuse committed by clerics, but also those cases which involve religious or lay persons who function in ecclesiastical structures.

Circular Letter, To Assist Episcopal Conferences In Developing Guidelines  For Dealing With Cases Of Sexual Abuses Of Minors Perpetrated By Clerics, Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 May 2011

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html

Written by Erineus

April 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm

A brief summary of the applicable canonical legislation concerning the delict of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by a cleric

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On 30 April 2001, Pope John Paul II promulgated the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela [SST], by which sexual abuse of a minor under 18 years of age committed by a cleric was included in the list of more grave crimes (delicta graviora) reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Prescription for this delict was fixed at 10 years beginning at the completion of the 18th year of the victim. The norm of the motu proprio applied both to Latin and Eastern clerics, as well as for diocesan and religious clergy.

In 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the CDF, obtained from Pope John Paul II the concession of some special faculties in order to provide greater flexibility in conducting penal processes for these more grave delicts. These measures included the use of the administrative penal process, and, in more serious cases, a request for dismissal from the clerical state ex officio. These faculties have now been incorporated in the revision of the motu proprio approved by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, on 21 May 2010. In the new norms prescription, in the case of abuse of minors, is set for 20 years calculated from the completion of the 18th year of age of the victim. In individual cases, the CDF is able to derogate from prescription when indicated. The canonical delict of acquisition, possession or distribution of pedopornography is also specified in this revised motu proprio.

The responsibility for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors belongs, in the first place, to Bishops or Major Superiors. If an accusation seems true the Bishop or Major Superior, or a delegate, ought to carry out the preliminary investigation in accord with CIC can. 1717, CCEO can. 1468, and SST art. 16.

If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defense, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims. In this regard, it should be noted that normally the imposition of a permanent penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, requires a penal judicial process. In accord with canon law (cf. CIC can. 1342) the Ordinary is not able to decree permanent penalties by extrajudicial decree. The matter must be referred to the CDF which will make the definitive judgement on the guilt of the cleric and his unsuitability for ministry, as well as the consequent imposition of a perpetual penalty (SST art. 21, §2).

The canonical measures applied in dealing with a cleric found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor are generally of two kinds: 1) measures which completely restrict public ministry or at least exclude the cleric from any contact with minors. These measures can be reinforced with a penal precept; 2) ecclesiastical penalties, among which the most grave is the dismissal from the clerical state.

In some cases, at the request of the cleric himself, a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy, can be given pro bono Ecclesiae.

The preliminary investigation, as well as the entire process, ought to be carried out with due respect for the privacy of the persons involved and due attention to their reputations.

Unless there are serious contrary indications, before a case is referred to the CDF, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation which has been made, and given the opportunity to respond to it. The prudence of the bishop will determine what information will be communicated to the accused in the course of the preliminary investigation.

It remains the duty of the Bishop or the Major Superior to provide for the common good by determining what precautionary measures of CIC can. 1722 and CCEO can. 1473 should be imposed. In accord with SST art. 19, this can be done once the preliminary investigation has been initiated.

Finally, it should be noted that, saving the approval of the Holy See, when a Conference of Bishops intends to give specific norms, such provisions must be understood as a complement to universal law and not replacing it. The particular provisions must therefore be in harmony with the CIC / CCEO as well as with the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (30 April 2001) as updated on 21 May 2010. In the event that a Conference would decide to establish binding norms it will be necessary to request the recognitio from the competent Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

III. Suggestions for Ordinaries on Procedures:

The Guidelines prepared by the Episcopal Conference ought to provide guidance to Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors in case they are informed of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics present in the territory of their jurisdiction. Such Guidelines, moreover, should take account of the following observations:

a.) the notion of “sexual abuse of minors” should concur with the definition of article 6 of the motu proprio SST (“the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years”), as well as with the interpretation and jurisprudence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while taking into account the civil law of the respective country;

b.) the person who reports the delict ought to be treated with respect. In the cases where sexual abuse is connected with another delict against the dignity of the sacrament of Penance (SST art. 4), the one reporting has the right to request that his or her name not be made known to the priest denounced (SST art. 24).;

c.) ecclesiastical authority should commit itself to offering spiritual and psychological assistance to the victims;

d.) investigation of accusations is to be done with due respect for the principle of privacy and the good name of the persons involved;

e.) unless there are serious contrary indications, even in the course of the preliminary investigation, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation, and given the opportunity to respond to it.

f.) consultative bodies of review and discernment concerning individual cases, foreseen in some places, cannot substitute for the discernment and potestas regiminis of individual bishops;

g.) the Guidelines are to make allowance for the legislation of the country where the Conference is located, in particular regarding what pertains to the obligation of notifying civil authorities;

h.) during the course of the disciplinary or penal process the accused cleric should always be afforded a just and fit sustenance;

i.) the return of a cleric to public ministry is excluded if such ministry is a danger for minors or a cause of scandal for the community.

Conclusion:

The Guidelines developed by Episcopal Conferences seek to protect minors and to help victims in finding assistance and reconciliation. They will also indicate that the responsibility for dealing with the delicts of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the Diocesan Bishop. Finally, the Guidelines will lead to a common orientation within each Episcopal Conference helping to better harmonize the resources of single Bishops in safeguarding minors.

Circular Letter, To Assist Episcopal Conferences In Developing Guidelines  For Dealing With Cases Of Sexual Abuses Of Minors Perpetrated By Clerics, Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 May 2011

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html

Question. When will the Anointing of the Sick be appropriately administered?

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Answer.

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: My wife and I go to Mass on first Saturdays to this church where the normal priest offers confession, Mass and anointing of the sick. Now, the normal priest was not there, but our new priest stood in for the normal priest. When the Mass was over the priest said: “Before, I give the anointing of the sick, I want it to be known that I will give it only to those who are: sick, dying, have a serious illness, or in danger of losing their life. Too many people abuse this sacrament.” Was he right in making that statement? — J.C., Corpus Christi, Texas

A: I have no idea if the manner or tone of the priest’s statement was done with due pastoral tact. But he is correct as to the substance of the norms for administering the anointing of the sick.

Under present norms the sacrament may be administered “as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (Code of Canon Law 1004 §1).

The provisions of the ritual “for the anointing of the sick and their pastoral care,” issued by the Holy See, clarifies the conditions under which the sacrament may be received.

Regarding the judgment as to the seriousness of the illness the document states that: “It is sufficient to have a prudent or probable judgment about its seriousness. All anxiety about the matter should be put aside and, if necessary, the physician might be consulted.”
Also: “This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person had recovered after his previous reception of anointing. It can also be conferred again if, during the same illness, his dangerous condition becomes more serious.”

Major surgery is also a sufficient motivation for receiving the sacrament even if the condition is not in itself immediately life-threatening:

“Before a surgical section (popularly ‘operation’), holy anointing can be given to the sick person as often as the dangerous illness is the cause of this surgery.”

Here the Church distinguishes between an illness that might not of itself warrant reception of the sacrament, and the same illness preceding surgery. In the latter case, anointing becomes warranted.

With reference to the elderly: “Anointing can be conferred on the aged who are greatly weakened in strength, even though there is no sign of a dangerous illness.” In this case the anointing may be repeated periodically as old age progresses.

The sacrament can also be administered to sick children: “from the time they have reached the use of reason, so that they can be strengthened by this sacrament.” Consequently the motive for conferring the sacrament is not (though it may include) remission of their personal sins, but to obtain the strength they may need either for bearing their sufferings, or to overcome discouragement or, if it is God’s will, to be restored to health.

The sacrament may also be conferred on the unconscious if “as believers they would likely have asked for the holy anointing while they were in possession of their faculties.” Likewise, if a person is apparently dead but the priest “is in doubt whether the sick person is really dead, he can give him the sacrament conditionally.”

Therefore, although the Church’s dispositions allow for a generous administration of the anointing of the sick, the sacrament is ordered toward the gravely ill from a physical condition. It should not be administered generally and indiscriminately.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur136.htm

Written by Erineus

January 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Question. What are the crimes that can desecrate the church? How will the reparation for desecration be carried out?

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Answer. 

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: There was a bomb blast last year in our cathedral at Kathmandu. In it, three people died and several were injured. In all probability, one died on the spot (inside the church). We did clean up the place after the police had done their job, and we had Mass celebrated the following day. Now, there was doubt in the minds of some of our old Catholics. At least one of them told me that after a murder takes place in the church, it is desecrated (because of the murder); therefore, before celebrating Mass and other sacraments in the building, the church needs to be re-dedicated. The person told me that that was “the rule before.” I personally had not come across a situation like this before, and I did not know whether any rule existed either. Could you please explain whether there are some rules or regulations with regard to this? — P.P., Kathmandu, Nepal

A: This topic is dealt with in the Code of Canon Law and in the Ceremonial of Bishops. Canons 1211-1112 touch upon the violation of sacred places.

“Can. 1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.

“Can. 1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.”

To this must be added the norms of the Ceremonial of Bishops, Nos. 1070-1092, which describes the public prayers to be made after the desecration of a church.

First, it specifies further the nature of the crimes that can desecrate a church as those that “do grave dishonor to sacred mysteries, especially to the eucharistic species, and are committed to show contempt for the Church, or are crimes that are serious offenses against the dignity of the person and society.”

It continues: “A church, therefore, is desecrated by actions that are gravely injurious in themselves and a cause of scandal to the faithful.”
The situation in Kathmandu clearly fulfills all the conditions for a desecration.

Reparation for the desecration is to be carried out with a penitential rite celebrated as soon as possible. Until that time, no sacred rite may be celebrated in the church. Preaching to prepare for the penitential rite may be carried out. The people are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation, which should be celebrated in another church. To symbolize penance, the Ceremonial recommends: “The altar of the church should be stripped bare and all customary signs of joy and gladness should be put away, for example, lights flowers, and other such articles.”

It is fitting that the bishop presides at the rite of reparation, which may be either a celebration of the Eucharist or a Liturgy of the Word as circumstances suggest. It may be celebrated on any day except the Easter triduum, Sundays and solemnities, but may be celebrated on the vigil of a Sunday. The Mass of reparation is the preferred mode.

The most suitable Mass formula may be chosen; for example: the votive Mass of the holy Eucharist (in cases of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament) or for promoting harmony in the case of violent clashes.

There are several forms of carrying out the rite. One is a procession of the people from a nearby church or another suitable place during which prayer and the litany of the saints is sung, including the patron of the desecrated church and other prayers found in the Roman ritual. If a procession is not possible, then the people gather in the church and the bishop and other ministers enter from the sacristy.

On entering the church, the bishop along with concelebrants and other ministers goes to the chair without reverencing the altar. He then blesses water, and after a moment of silent prayer sprinkles the altar. He may also sprinkle the people and the walls. Returning to the chair, and with hands joined, he invites those present to pray. After a brief silent prayer, the bishop recites the opening prayer with hands outstretched.

The readings usually come from the Mass for the forgiveness of sins, unless other more suitable readings are chosen. Appropriate general intercessions are prayed only if the litany of the saints has not been used. After this, the deacon and other ministers place the altar cloth and the other usual elements upon the altar and may place flowers around it. The procession of the gifts follows the bishop receiving them at the chair.
When everything is ready, the bishop goes to the altar and kisses it and the Mass continues in the usual manner.

In the case of desecration of the Eucharist, the concluding rites of Mass are replaced by exposition, adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

If there is only a celebration of the Word, then everything is done as above, until after the homily. A prayer of intercession asking for God’s mercy is carried out. The altar is then dressed and decorated by the ministers or the faithful. The bishop then approaches the altar, and kisses and incenses it. He subsequently introduces the Our Father, followed by a suitable closing prayer and the blessing.

When the Ceremonial of Bishops was published, the official rite of reparation was not yet promulgated. However, the elements provided in the Ceremonial and described above suffice for the preparation of an adequate celebration

http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur302.htm