The Deacon's Bench

DSC_5320-800.jpg While much attention has been focused on the Vatican’s new norms to cover clerical sex abuse — norms that are due out any day now — Catholic News Service reports that another item may also be covered:

The Vatican is preparing to update the 2001 norms that deal with priestly sex abuse of minors, in effect codifying practices that have been in place for several years.

At the same time, it will include the “attempted ordination of women” among the list of most serious crimes against church law, or “delicta graviora,” sources said.

Sexual abuse of a minor by a priest was added to the classification of “delicta graviora” in 2001. At that time the Vatican established norms to govern the handling of such cases.

The revisions of those norms have been in the pipeline for some time and were expected to be published in mid-July, Vatican sources said. While the changes are not “earthshaking,” they will ultimately strengthen the church’s efforts to identify and discipline priests who abuse minors, the sources said.


The sources said the Vatican was not preparing to publish other documents on priestly sex abuse. Although some have argued that some of the strict sex abuse norms adopted by U.S. bishops in 2002 should be universalized, the sources said there was no imminent plan to do that.

Pope John Paul’s 2001 document distinguished between two types of “most grave crimes,” those committed in the celebration of the sacraments and those committed against morals. Among the sacramental crimes were such things as desecration of the Eucharist and violation of the seal of confession.

Under the new revisions, the “attempted ordination of women” will be listed among those crimes, as a serious violation of the sacrament of holy orders, informed sources said. As such, it will be handled under the procedures set up for investigating “delicta graviora” under the control of the doctrinal congregation.

In 2008, the doctrinal congregation formally decreed that a woman who attempts to be ordained a Catholic priest and the person attempting to ordain her are automatically excommunicated. In 1994, Pope John Paul said the church’s ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

As always, check the link for more. And stay tuned. Meantime, the blog over at U.S. Catholic has some sharp words on all this.

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