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Evidence Proves Pope Tried to Crack Down on Abusers 20 Years Ago

By  Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The Vatican released documentation yesterday proving that as early as 1988, Pope Benedict XVI actively sought a faster way to remove priests who were involved in scandalous behavior.  The Washington Post is reporting that a 1988 letter from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger proves that the Pope tried to come up with a faster procedure for permanently removing priests who molested youth. The letter, which was republished yesterday in L'Osservatore Romano, shows the Cardinal complaining that existing church law made it too difficult to remove abusers who did not voluntarily request laicization. He asked for a "quicker and simpler procedure" to get around the problem rather than the cumbersome church trial procedure currently in use. He was ultimately turned down by Cardinal Jose Rosalio Castillo Lara, who headed the Vatican commission responsible for implementing the 1983 code of Canon Law. In a March 10, 1988 letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, Castillo Lara said simplifying the procedures "would endanger the fundamental right of defense" of the priest while straying from the church's legal-based system. The letter contradicts accusations made earlier this year that the Pope had repeatedly refused bishops' requests to have abusers removed while he served as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. During his time in that post, he followed the laws and rules introduced by Pope John Paul II which left the punishment of abusive priests in the hands of local bishops who often decided not to conduct a church trial because of how burdensome the procedures were. In addition to this problem, Pope John Paul II, in an attempt to stop the flood of priests who left the priesthood in the 1970's to marry, put in place rules that made it tougher or priests to leave the priesthood. This resulted in bishops looking for other ways to deal with abusers, such as referring them for counseling or transferring them to other parishes - actions which ultimately resulted in lawsuits that bankrupted many U.S. dioceses during the sex abuse scandal. In 2001, 2003, and again this past summer, the Vatican took steps to streamline and formalize norms so that abusive priests can now be removed quickly and without a church trial. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®




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