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article imageVatican goes after clerics who abused mentally impaired adults

By Andrew Moran     Jul 8, 2010 in World
Rome - The Vatican has announced that it will crack down on clerics who sexually abused mentally impaired adults. The punishment will have the same set of standards and sanctions as priests who molest and raped children.
The Vatican has been attempting over the last several months to repair their image and handle the public relations of their Catholic clerics. According to Reuters, the Vatican will revise its Church law next week. The revisions include doubling a statute of limitations and introducing penalties for priests who have sexual abused children and who hold child pornography.
On Thursday, the Vatican is expected to announce that child victims will be able to file charges until they are 38, a stance viewed as significant because many child victims find it difficult to find the courage to come forward with their sexual abuse cases.
The Associated Press reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) will now also tackle the situation of priests who sexually abuse mentally impaired adults by applying the same set of punishments that priests receive when they’re accused of sexually abusing children.
Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at the Pontifical Holy Cross University and a consultant at the Congregation, stated that it hasn’t yet been revealed under the new documents but noted that sexual abuse against mentally handicapped individuals was still a crime under canon law.
Cito cited Canon 1395, which forbids priests from committing sexual abuses against anyone “by force or by threats or in public.” If a priest committed such an offence, he would be dismissed from the clerical state.
The latest news coming out of the Vatican has been seen as a step in the right direction, such as the President of Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), reports the Associated Press.
“It's a small, positive, long overdue step,” said SNAP President Barbara Blaine. “Often mentally diminished adults are just as vulnerable to shrewd predators as children are.” However, Blaine did cite caution of enforcement.
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