Jesus statueFor a while now the Vatican has been promising to issue new guidelines for handling clerical abuse claims within the realm of Church law. The unspoken implication behind the Holy See’s promises has been that the procedures would change for the better … that is, by tightening accountability of all involved and declaring that accusations should be relayed to local civil authorities. But one of the things the Vatican is most famous for is its reluctance to change; thus, it’s no surprise that its newly-announced guidelines are really not much more than a restatement of the status quo. The New York Times reports on this latest piece of evidence that the Catholic Church is in the throes of a moral collapse (WebCite cached article):

In its most significant revision to church law since a sex abuse crisis hit the United States a decade ago and roared back from remission in Europe this spring, the Vatican on Thursday issued new internal rules making it easier to discipline priests who have sexually abused minors.

But in a move that infuriated victims’ groups and put United States bishops on the defensive, it also codified “the attempted ordination of women” to the priesthood as one of the church’s most grave crimes, along with heresy, schism and pedophilia.

Note here the effort at diversion: In the midst of responding to one issue, the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, the Vatican couldn’t resist getting a dig in at another — completely unrelated — issue, that being the (potential for) ordination of women. How obvious … not to mention juvenile!

Of course, the Vatican is denying reality and misrepresenting the nature of this document:

In a statement, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the changes were a sign of the church’s commitment to addressing child sex abuse with “rigor and transparency.”

There is, in fact, nothing “rigorous” about this, and nothing has been done to enhance “transparency.” Bishops are still free to shuffle clergy around and allow abusers to prey on new victims, even when their wrongdoing is known. There is no accountability for the hierarchy. None whatsoever. That was the case before, and it remains the case now.

Photo credit: missliz.

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