A scandal and its consequences

A scandal and its consequences

Bishops in prayer © Markus Nowak (CBA)

An international summit of church leaders to combat sexual abuse in the church begins this Thursday at the Vatican. What exactly is the meeting about? The most important questions and answers at a glance.

What has the Vatican done so far to combat sexual abuse?

Since 2001, the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has taken charge of ecclesiastical criminal proceedings in cases of abuse of minors by clergy and extended the statutes of limitations. The norms were tightened again in 2010. Since then, canon law has also taken effect in many cases that are time-barred in secular courts or are not considered crimes. After 2001, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith received several thousand reports of incidents that occurred in the past 70 years.

Why did Pope Francis convene the summit?

Triggered by reports of numerous cases of abuse in recent decades, including in the U.S., Chile and Germany. Pope Francis had to admit his own mistakes in dealing with cases in Chile. He was also accused of Vatican cover-up of longtime Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick, 88, despite numerous sexual assaults. In addition, there were demands to relax the celibacy of priests and to change the sexual morals of the church.

Who will participate?

Among the 190 participants, the presidents of all national bishops' conferences (including the leaders of the Eastern Churches) make up the largest group, about 140. In addition, there are 12 male and 10 female religious superiors. Also attending are the heads of 14 Vatican agencies, the remaining members of the Council of Cardinals and some child protection experts, abuse victims and speakers.

How does the meeting proceed?

Unlike a synod, there will be no final vote on a document. The bishops and superiors should above all listen and understand. The focus is on accountability and transparency. Abuse victims will tell of their suffering – also via video recording. Over three days, three speakers each will speak on the topics of "responsibility," "accountability" and "transparency" .

Six of the speakers are archbishops, three are women. The last archbishop to speak on Saturday is Munich's Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

The pope, after a penitential service on Saturday and a Holy Mass on Sunday, summarizes the results in a keynote address.

What consequences will the summit have?

Francis will discuss the consequences with the organizers the following week. Short-term as well as medium- and long-term steps are planned. There will probably be effects in priestly formation and in ecclesiastical criminal law. In particular, it should be determined in a binding manner under church law how in the future bishops and superiors will be held accountable for crimes or the covering up of crimes. In order to decide on fundamental changes in moral theology or celibacy, a general council would be necessary.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Christina Cherry
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: