In an article published today by the Vatican’s press office, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, shows that Pope Benedict XVI has for decades attempted to reform the process by which “graviora delicta,” or grave crimes, including sexual abuse of minors by clerics, are tried in the Church.
Bishop Arrieta writes, “The initiative [for reform] sprang from a deeply-held conviction of the Pontiff, the fruit of years of personal experience, and from his concern for the integrity and the consistent application of Church discipline.”
The article highlights a letter, dated to 1988, by Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), asking the Vatican office responsible for the Church’s Code of Canon Law, for “a more rapid and simplified penal process.”
Ratzinger had argued that as the head of the office dealing with faith and morals, the grave crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors fell under his own jurisdiction. He asked that such cases be dealt with by his office, the CDF, rather than entirely locally by bishops in their own dioceses.At that time, the cardinal’s request was refused. In a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, dated March 10, 1988, the head of what was then called the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, said, “I can well understand Your Eminence’s concern at the fact that the Ordinaries [local bishops] involved did not first exercise their judicial power in order to punish such crimes sufficiently, even to protect the common good of the faithful.” Read the full article from LifeSiteNews Here.