Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney :: Vatican Means Business—Bishops Told to Weed out Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

The Vatican announced that bishops must make it a priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests on Monday. The Roman Catholic Church told bishops in a letter that they are to cooperate with civil authorities in an attempt to end the sexual abuse that has plagued the church’s reputation around the world.

Based on a global approach in line with local civil law, the letter is intended to assist each diocese in establishlishing its own strict guidelines. These rules must be sent to the Vatican within a year for review.

The letter states that the responsibility for dealing with sexual abuse crimes by clerics to minors lies in the hands of the bishops. The letter incorporated vast revision made last year by the church that doubled a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extended the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.

The Vatican official said that bishops must follow local civil legislation. This means that if legislation mandates bishops report instances of sexual abuse directly to authorities, they must do so and guidelines will include this. The letter also states that bishops must be more selective in their hiring process for priesthood so that sexual abusers can be caught early on. The guidelines show that those who are known abusers must be excluded from public ministry, and not just relocated to another parish.

In many of the global sexual abuse cases, local bishops allowed known abusers to be moved from one parish to another instead of being defrocked.

In a statement released by the Catholic Church in Sept. 2009, within the last 50 years between 1.5 and 5 percent of the Catholic clergy was involved in sexual abuse cases. A Stanford University and Santa Clara University study found that approximately 4 percent of priests during the past half a century had sexual relations with a minor. This information is consistent with male clergy from other religions and considerably lower than the general adult male population that can double these figures.

In a 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, there were approximately 10,667 reported victims of clergy sexual abuse during the time period of 1950 through 2002. Nearly 81 percent of the victims were male; 22.6 percent were under the age of 10 years old, 51 percent were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 27 percent were between the ages to 15 to 17 years. Many of the reported acts of sexual abuse included fondling or unspecified abuse. The report showed a large number of allegations that included more severe forms of abuse like oral sex and intercourse.

Florida statutes regulate particular consequences for those found guilty of sexual abuse. These punishments include hefty fines, lengthy prison sentences, registration as a sexual offender and probation.

If you are facing charges of sexual abuse in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or call 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).