The Vatican has toughened its rules on pedophile priests. While the changes are surely welcome, it still bothers me that the Holy See insists on keeping its own rule of law despite the fact that the large majority of Catholic priests are not “citizens” of the Vatican, but live in countries all over the world – and as such, they fall under the jurisdiction of local civil law, not canon law. It seems very dodgy to me.
I suppose that as long as abuse victims report their ordeals directly to their government, and not just to their church, civil law will prevail in the prosecution of the abuser. (Anyone who knows more about how this works, please feel free to enlighten me with a comment!)
The second interesting aspect of the Vatican’s new rules is that the ordination of female priests is clearly and strictly forbidden, just to make sure that recent pressure for sexual equality in the priesthood is slapped down. As usual, the Vatican digs its heals in, and we have to drag it kicking and screaming into modern, morally enlightened times. It’s a wonder to me that anyone still takes it seriously. But then again, we still have rabidly anti-gay priests in Uganda and countries that forbid women to drive cars. We’re not out of the woods just yet.
Update: The New York Times has an article on this subject today (requires a login).