In the meantime, they say, cases are being handled in an increasingly ad hoc manner. In the case of McCarrick, for example, it has been hard for canonists to parse exactly what procedure is being followed.
Following the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York that it had received an allegation against McCarrick and deemed it credible, the then-cardinal was removed from public ministry.
In July, the Holy Father accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals – itself an historic event – and at the same time ordered McCarrick to live a life of prayer and penance pending the outcome of a "canonical process." Canon lawyers have noted that this seemed to be, for good or ill, the imposition of a legal penalty before the legal process had concluded - or perhaps even begun.
There has been no announcement about what kind of "process" will be followed in resolving McCarrick's case. Nor has the Holy See clarified what charges, exactly, he will face. It seems unclear how a new legal structure could bring clarity to that situation, rather than more confusion.
Another proposal made in recent months has been the establishment of regional commissions and tribunals for handling abuse cases, something which has been suggested before.
Baroness Sheila Hollins, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has been among the most recent voices to suggest that this might serve to clear the languishing backlog of abuse cases clogging the courts at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The problem she identifies is a serious one.
Following his election in 2013, one of Pope Francis' first curial reforms was to decree a Vatican-wide hiring freeze, which is still in effect. Since then, the pope has ordered the dismissal of three American priests working on abuse cases in the CDF, with a fourth leaving for personal reasons earlier this year.
Those working within and alongside of the CDF all report that there is simply not enough manpower to process the workload, something that Fr. Robert Geisinger, the CDF's in house prosecutor, has lamented more than once.
As a result, more than one U.S. bishop has resorted to flying to Rome to personally petition that cases waiting for adjudication be moved to the top of the pile.
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But the proposed regional tribunals would not solve the problem of a backlog, at least not in the short term. New courts would take years to come online, and even longer to prove effective. In the meantime, the structural and procedural upheaval needed to create them could cause chaos in a system that is already badly stretched.
Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and herself a survivor of abuse, has been a critic of this proposal for a more straightforward reason. She has observed that the call for regional tribunals does not address the fact that the underlying problem is a lack of resources.
During her time on the PCPM, Collins spoke openly of her frustration at the pace of change. She specifically singled out the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles abuse cases, for criticism. Since then, she has become an outspoken skeptic of further canonical reform, and pointed to the fact that few resources are actually devoted to making the current system work.
"The argument for going to local tribunals...is because the CDF is under resourced and understaffed, and so [is] unable to cope with all the abuse cases coming in from around the world: the question should be why is the CDF under resourced and understaffed?"
One curial official who has worked with the CDF told CNA that some staffers also have the impression that there is little practical commitment to the kind of real reform that would involve the addition of more qualified personnel to handle abuse cases.
"If 'where your treasure is there will your heart be too,' then by that measure Rome's heart isn't in this," the official told CNA.