Catholic clergy has an obligation to report child sex abuse, a Vatican official told the Holy See’s first symposium on the subject Monday, but victims’ groups demanded the Vatican hand over evidence of past abuse to the International Criminal Court.
REUTERS - Catholic clergy must report paedophile priests to police, a top Vatican official told the Holy See's first conference on the sex abuse crisis on Monday, but victims' groups demanded the Vatican face up to its past and publish its files on abuse.
Pope Benedict called for a "profound renewal of the church at every level" in a message delivered to senior churchmen summoned to discuss the Church's handling of sex abuse cases and accusations the Vatican had encouraged secrecy.
The scandal has led to costly legal action, is blamed for an exodus of believers in some European states, including the pope's native Germany, and damaged its moral standing in hitherto staunchly Catholic countries.
Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's head of doctrine, said clergy guilty of abuses would have to face the secular legal system, not just the canon law which governs church affairs.
"The Church has an obligation to cooperate with the requirements of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the appropriate authorities," said Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
But an association for victims of abuse dismissed the conference as "window dressing" and said the Vatican should hand over documentation of abuse to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
"After years of promises, meetings and empty apologies, the Vatican cannot do the simplest, cheapest and most child-friendly action possible: make public decades of secret files on clergy sex offenders and enablers," said Joelle Casteix from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
The four-day symposium in Rome, entitled "Towards Healing and Renewal," brings together some 200 people including bishops, leaders of religious orders, victims of abuse and psychologists.
Date created : 2012-02-07