Sources- Vatican rejects some elements of sex abuse policy

Friday, October 18, 2002

VATICAN CITY -- Elements of the toughened sex abuse policy approved by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops have been rejected at the Vatican, which has warned American prelates about going ahead with some reforms, church sources familiar with the Holy See's response said Thursday.

The Vatican is particularly concerned that some parts of the policy would violate the individual rights of accused clerics now protected under church law, the sources said.

Victims' groups in the United States were outraged, and said this shows the church -- despite being wracked by scandal -- is still more concerned about sheltering molester priests than helping children. But an organization representing American clerics said priests deserve every right to defend themselves against abuse claims.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said "this is further proof that, as we have long said, the church can not reform itself."

The Rev. Robert J. Silva, president of the National Federation of Priests' Councils, called the Vatican response "good news."

"It'll be a great help. It will give the priests more energy to pursue just treatment," said Silva.

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