Vatican Rules Equate Pedophilia and Ordaining Women
VATICAN CITY — 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.
In its revision, the Vatican doubled the statute of limitations in abuse cases from 10 to 20 years from the victim’s 18th birthday and added possession of child pornography and the sexual abuse of mentally disabled adults to the list of crimes handled by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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.”
But the revision fell short of the hopes of many advocates for victims of priestly abuse: It does not contain measures to hold bishops accountable for abuse by priests on their watch, nor does it require mandatory reporting of sex abuse to civil authorities even in countries where it is not required by civil law.
Monsignor Scicluna also attempted to blunt the impact of the Vatican’s linking of the attempted ordination of women with grave crimes like pedophilia.
“Sexual abuse and pornography are more grave dealings, they are an egregious violation of moral law,” he said. “Attempted ordination of women is grave, but on another level; it is a wound that is an attempt against the Catholic faith on the sacramental orders.”