Revised Norms Cover Sex Abuse and Women's Ordination

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 revisions will be published with ample documentation and will be accompanied by a glossary of church law terms, aimed at helping nonexperts understand the complex rules and procedures that the Vatican has in place for dealing with sex abuse allegations. The revisions were expected to extend the church law's statute of limitations on accusations of sexual abuse, from 10 years after the alleged victim's 18th birthday to 20 years. For several years, Vatican officials have been routinely granting exceptions to the 10-year statute of limitations.

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