Vatican Says U.S. Bishops' Abuse Policy Contradicts Church Law

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Vatican says abuse policy goes too far
The Vatican will issue a formal rejection of the American bishops' "zero tolerance" policy on clergy accused of abuse, all the country's major papers report today.

"The Holy See, above all, would like to convey full solidarity with the Bishops of the United States in their firm condemnation of sexual misdeeds against minors and is deeply concerned about the distressing situation that has arisen in recent months in the Church in the United States," says a letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation of Bishops, to Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Despite these efforts, the application of the policies adopted at the Plenary Assembly in Dallas can be the source of confusion and ambiguity, because the 'Norms' and 'Charter' contain provisions which in some aspects are difficult to reconcile with the universal law of the Church."

The Vatican therefore has suggested a joint commission to adapt the American bishops' rules to existing church law.

One unnamed Vatican official quoted in The New York Times spoke a bit more plainly. The American bishops, he said, "have passed from a situation in which they hardly wanted to intervene at all into one in which they want to intervene too much. … If zero tolerance means justice, I agree. But more than fulfilling justice, this might be an effort to make the American media happy."

Gregory told the Associated Press he wasn't surprised or disappointed. "We're dealing with basically a sound document that needs modification rather than recasting," he said.

Victims groups are upset, the AP reports.

So far, the only major opinion piece comes from John L. Allen Jr, the National Catholic Reporter's ...

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June
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