European bishops' conferences back modifications to norms on abuse

.- Following Thursday's announcement from the Vatican updating the procedures of investigation and punishment of the most serious sins, including sexual abuse of minors and attempted women's ordination, several European bishops' conferences welcomed the changes.

The revised norms set in concrete what has been general practice within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for the last nine years for "delicta graviora," or the most serious sins within the Church. Among the modifications was the extension of the statute of limitations from 10 to 20 years from the alleged victim's 18th birthday, the condemnation of pedophile pornagraphy as a serious sin and the consideration of the mentally disadvantaged as on a par with the abuse of minors by clergy.

In a statement to Italy's SIR news, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German bishops, said he was "grateful" for the updated norms, especially for the fact that through them the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) delivered a "clear signal" for greater information and punishment in cases of sexual abuse of minors.

"The Congregation's new document represents an unambiguous witness in favor of the victims of faults and crimes in the ecclesiastic ambit," he said.

The spokesman for the Bishops of Belgium said that they find the new norms "'adequate' to respond even more effectively" to sexual abuses that take place within the Church.

In a statement released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a spokesman said that the bishops "welcome" the publication of the norms, noting that they "clearly demonstrate the Church’s concern for the safeguarding of children and all vulnerable people.”

Also making a statement was Swiss bishops' secretary general Msgr. Felix Gmur, who welcomed the norms saying that the conference feels "supported in its efforts to combat all forms of sexual aggression decisively."

Calling the norms "adequate and more stringent," he said that "sexual violence is a delict (sin) and sexual violence against children is a particularly abominable delict. In the Church there cannot be a place for these things."

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