National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


Vatican revises church law on sex abuse


Rome -- In the latest chapter of the Vatican's attempt to come to grips with the sexual abuse crisis, Pope Benedict XVI has approved a set of revisions to church law which are touted by the Vatican as a major contribution to "rigor and transparency," while derided by critics as "mere tweaking."

For the most part, Vatican sources said, the revisions consolidate existing practice rather than marking a dramatic new approach. Unveiled on July 15, the changes include:

Changes detailed by Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith


Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church and to the Ordinaries and Hierarchs, regarding the modifications introduced in the
Normae de gravioribus delictis

Nine years after the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data, «Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela», regarding the norms de gravioribus delictis reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this Dicastery held it necessary to proceed with a reform of the above mentioned text, emending it not in its entirety, but only in certain areas, in order to render the text more useful.

After a thorough and attentive study of the proposed modifications to the norms, the Fathers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the Roman Pontiff with a draft. The Holy Father approved and ordered the promulgation of these revised norms on 21 May 2010.

Attached with this letter is a brief description of the changes and amendments of the normative text, «Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela». In this way, the modifications are rendered more immediately accessible.

Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 21 May 2010.

William Cardinal LEVADA

New church code articles



Art. 1
§ 1. The Congregation for the Doc¬trine of the Faith, according to art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus , judges delicts against the faith, as well as the more grave delicts committed against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law, with due regard for the competence of the Apostolic Penitentiary and in keeping with Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine.

§ 2. With regard to the delicts mentioned above in § 1, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by mandate of the Roman Pontiff, may judge Cardinals, Patriarchs, Legates of the Apostolic See, Bishops as well as other physical persons mentioned in can. 1405 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law , and in can. 1061 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

§ 3. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges the reserved delicts mentioned in § 1 according to the following norms.

Art. 2

Catholic social teaching finds church leadership lacking


Following is a talk by Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa. Dowling told NCR in a telephone interview today that he gave the talk June 1 to a group of "influential lay Catholics" who meet periodically for lunch in Cape Town. The group, Dowling said, had asked him to speak "on how I view the current state of the church."

"In subsequent conversations, it became clear to me that the group of well-informed Catholic lay leaders wanted an analysis that would be open and very honest," Dowling said July 8. "Given the fact that it would be a select group with no media present, I decided I would be open and honest in my views to initiate debate and discussion."

A reporter, however, was present and what Dowling meant as an "off the record" conversation with lay leaders became local news. Dowling subsequently sent copies of his talk to his fellow South African bishops. NCR received a copy of the document and contacted Dowling to verify its authenticity.

Dowling sent NCR an original copy of the talk and gave us permission to post it online. Following is the text of Dowling's June 1 talk to lay Catholic leaders in South Africa.

A hierarchy deeply damaged from within


An NCR Editorial

The first half of 2010 has been a particularly bumpy patch for the papacy of Benedict XVI. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This pope had as goals to sharpen the teaching of the world’s largest Christian denomination, to do battle with secularism and relativism, and to convince the world, Catholic and otherwise, that Christianity authentically lived is more about possibilities and new freedom than about “thou shalt nots” and other restrictions.

Pope's Sept. visit to England, Scotland confirmed


VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom, where he will meet Queen Elizabeth II and beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman.

During his four-day visit Sept. 16-19, the pope will fly to Scotland to be welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, in Edinburgh at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen's official residence in Scotland, the Vatican said in a written statement July 5. Prince Philip is the Duke of Edinburgh.

Seven days that shook the Vatican


Rome -- It’s customary for the Vatican to empty its pipeline of pending business before the pope heads for his annual summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo. That usually makes for a flurry of news in late June. It was turbo-charged this year by dramatic events breaking in on the Vatican from the outside. Faced with such a deluge of news, the obvious temptation is to miss the forest for the trees. Here, I’d like to step back from the details and ponder the question, “What does it all mean?”

Read the full report: Seven days that shook the Vatican

[John Allen is NCR senior correspondent. His e-mail address is]

Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican


Rome -- In what’s already a turbulent time, Pope Benedict XVI has triggered another Vatican earthquake, changing the guard in three senior leadership positions. Among those exiting the scene is the Catholic church’s most prominent ecumenical leader over the past decade, while the new arrivals complete the ascent of personal friends and theological protégés of the pontiff to the Vatican’s top positions.

Three archbishops and the American Catholic future



In the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014


Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.