Bishop John McAreavey welcomes Holy See update on Norms on serious crimes

16 Jul 2010

16 July 2010

Bishop John McAreavey welcomes Holy See update on Norms on serious crimes

Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and co-chair of the Bishops’ Council for Communications welcomed yesterday’s publication by the Holy See of the new Normae de Gravioribus Delictis (Norms concerning the most serious crimes).

Bishop McAreavey said “The Catholic Church has a body of law, canon law, to help promote the common good and for the consistent governance of the Church throughout the world.  Yesterday’s publication of the new Norms strengthens parts of the Church’s law and covers all of the breaches of law considered to be exceptionally serious.  I very much welcome this comprehensive and updated publication which will help us deal with the very serious crime and sin of child sexual abuse.

“Yesterday’s Norms updated and reformed the 2001 Vatican publication Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (Safeguarding the Sanctity of the Sacraments) which did not just deal with child sexual abuse, but also contained a number of serious offences relating of the Sacraments of the Church.  These new Norms develop and add to these offences.

“I welcome in particular the fact that the new Norms refer to sanctions against abusers of vulnerable adults, including those with special needs of any age.  By placing this abuse on a par with the abuse of children and young people, the Church wishes to highlight the dignity of those with special needs and its desire to keep them safe.

“I also welcome the making explicit of the crime of paedophile pornography relating to the ‘acquisition, possession or disclosure’ by a member of the clergy.   In this way the Church wishes to highlight the horrendous degradation of children used in the production of pornographic materials.

“However some media interpretation of yesterday’s publication attempts to draw an equivalence between the ordination of women and child sexual abuse.  This is unfounded.  The former offence relates to the sacraments, the latter to immorality.  The fact that a variety of issues are dealt with in one document does not imply in any context that all these issues are equivalent.

“Yesterday’s publication is not the end of the matter, rather it reflects the Holy See’s ongoing commitment to addressing the very serious issue of child abuse.  The Holy See is working on further instructions for bishops, so that the directives it issues on the subject of sexual abuse of minors, whether by clergy or in institutions connected with the Church, may be increasingly rigorous, coherent and effective.”

In conclusion Bishop McAreavey said “Earlier this year the Holy See published a guide to understanding Church procedures concerning sexual abuse allegations which said that the civil law concerning the reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.  This has been the policy in the Irish Church since 1996.”


Notes for Editors

Please see the ‘Responding to Abuse’ section on to access links on the Vatican website for the following texts published yesterday:

  • Norms
  • Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church and to the Ordinaries and Hierarchs, regarding the modifications introduced in the Normae de gravioribus delictis
  • The norms of the Motu Proprio “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” (2001): Historical introduction
  • A brief introduction to the modifications made in the Normae de gravioribus delictis, reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  • The significance of the publication of the new “Norms concerning the most serious crimes“. Note by Fr. F. Lombardi

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678