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Vatican maze: Retracing the path of abuse accountability proposals


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Recent exchanges in the media between the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a former member of a papal advisory commission have highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency when it comes to finding better ways to make bishops and religious superiors more accountable for how they handle allegations of sexual abuse.

The first muddying of the waters occurred in early June 2015 when a Vatican press office briefing and bulletin announced, "The Holy Father approved proposals and authorized that sufficient resources" be provided for a new "judicial section" in the doctrinal congregation in order for the congregation "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of abuse of office."

While officials told reporters that the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis approved the proposal presented by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it was not a "papal fiat," but rather just a green light for the offices involved to flesh out what procedures could uphold greater accountability, a source familiar with the situation told Catholic News Service.

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