Nothing much new in “new” Vatican guidelines for handling clergy sex abuse

The new “guidelines” issued today by the Vatican that aim to make changes within the church regarding the handling of child sex abuse cases are misleading, toothless and timid.   They are misleading because they are labeled as “changes” but in reality, as even Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi concedes, the guidelines are merely a disingenuous attempt to reinforce the current protocols, rather than make any fundamental changes to the norm.  They are toothless because they give no new rules that require any meaningful change or any real action by church officials; they do not even require mandatory reporting to law enforcement.

In addition, the guidelines are timid because they take no affirmative steps to make things safer for children.  Until we hear of real, affirmative, strong action taken by the church officials to fundamentally change the culture of secrecy, shame and cover up, we must continue to work every day to demand these changes and to protect other kids. 

Finally, if the Vatican really thought it was on to something meaningful why the year-long time period for development of the actual polices by the bishops?  The guidelines direct bishops to submit a copy of their policies to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) by the end of May 2012, over a year from now.  It’s like saying ‘relax boys, no reason to rush into anything, it’s only sexual abuse of children.  Take a year.’