Vatican puts abuse rules online to quell critics

April 12, 2010
vatican sky

The dome of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. April 4, 2005/Alessia Pierdomenico

The Vatican published an online guide on Monday to rules for handling sex abuse charges against priests and defended the pope’s handling of the media storm, saying he was a “great communicator in his own way”.

Just over a year after Pope Benedict acknowledged the Holy See had been slow to embrace the Internet, after mishandling the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop, the Vatican posted an “idiot’s guide” to its rules on how to deal with abuse charges.

Although the rules are not new, their publication in a short, simple format reflects the Roman Catholic Church’s determination to deflect criticism that its response to the sex abuse scandal has been bureaucratic, secretive and defensive.

The official Vatican website called it an “introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists (referring to ‘canon’ or internal church law)” to rules for local churches on how to respond to sex abuse allegations.

It made clear high up that bishops must report crimes to the police, saying “civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed”.

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