During a briefing today with journalists for the release of new norms on cases of "the most serious sins" in the Church, Fr. Federico Lombardi spoke about the work that continues to be done in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He said that the congregation is working on new, comprehensive documents compiled from the experiences of individual bishops' conferences to create better guidelines for handling abuse cases on a local level.
The announcement came within an officially published comment from Fr. Lombardi, who explained the scope of the direction further during the briefing.
The Vatican spokesman informed reporters that the CDF is "currently examining how to help the bishops of the world formulate and develop, coherently and effectively, the indications and guidelines necessary to face the problems of the sexual abuse of minors, either by members of the clergy or within the environment of activities and institutions connected with the Church ...”
These additional documents, he said, will bear in mind “the situation and the problems of the societies in which they operate."
Straying from his prepared notes, Fr. Lombardi explained, "It has always been said that the episcopates that know the different situations in the different countries and the different norms and cultural situations should make their own guidelines to confront the problem of the abuse of minors by clergy ... and (in) other Catholic institutions.
"Episcopates," he went on, "have an important role because they know the specific situations in each place. The CDF is studying and working, based on the experience of the different guidelines given by the Episcopates to give the directions to help to establish a coherent framework between the different episcopal conferences" to take advantage of positive contributions offered.
"It's a work of coordination, integration, suggestions and harmonization of the guidelines but without eliminating the role of the Episcopates in this field."
While there is no time line for the release of these guidelines and it is still unknown what form the documents might take on, Fr. Lombardi assured that "they are working (at the CDF).”
"This is an important element to keep in mind," Fr. Lombardi explained. "It isn't as if with the publication of the norms concerning the delictus gravioribus, the congregation has finished its task and won't think about it any more. It works, rather, to help develop, clarify and coordinate."
Going back to his prepared remarks, he said that "This will be another crucial step on the Church's journey as she translates into permanent practice and continuous awareness the fruits of the teachings and ideas that have matured over the course of the painful events of the 'crisis' engendered by sexual abuse by members of the clergy."