Page 4, 29th August 2003

29th August 2003
Page 4
Page 4, 29th August 2003 — Americas

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Bishops defend 1962 document

THE AMERICAN bishops have issued a statement on the 1962 Vatican document that allegedly called for secrecy in dealing with sex abuse by priests.

A statement from the department for communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops denied that the instruction was a blueprint for a global cover-up of abuse allegations.

It said: "The essential point in response to those making this claim is that they are taking the document entirely out of context and therefore distorting it completely. This document deals primarily with the canonical procedures to be followed when a priest is accused of soliciting in the confessional. Towards the end there is reference also to other crimes which are to be given serious punishment, gravely sinful deeds committed by a cleric with another man and 'with youths of either sex or with brute animals'."

It added: "The document clearly deals exclusively with ecclesiastical crimes and punishments found in church law. It outlines procedures for addressing ecclesiastical crimes and punishments found in church law. It outlines procedures for addressing ecclesiastical crimes which have already been designated publicly as such in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. It treats these crimes very seriously and repeats the penalties for them. The penalties include dismissal from the clerical state."

The 1962 document has no bearing on civil law. It does not forbid the civil reporting of civil crimes.

Letter: Page 7

Honour for rights priests

A CATHOLIC priCSI and human rights lawyer has won a top award for his battle against slave labour in Brazil.

The award, the Honorary Order of Merit, recognises Frei Henri's struggle against slavery, in particular, in the northern state of Para, where his work has led him to be targeted by death squads, with his name placed on a death list. Frei Henri works for the Pastoral Land Commission, an agency of the bishops' conference in Brazil.

The decision to make the award was made by the Council of the Order of Merit and was announced by the Minister of the Supreme Labour Court, Francisco Medeiros.

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