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SACRAMENTORUM SANCTITATIS TUTELA: REFLECTIONS ON THE REVISED MAY 2010 NORMS ON MORE SERIOUS DELICTS Thomas J. Green* I Introduction The following observations attempt to clarify some canonical implications of a May 2010 papal document containing substantive and procedural norms on particularly grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (herafter CDF).1 This document updated an earlier April 2001 motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (hereafter SST ) promulgated by John Paul II.2 Among other things these norms deal with the delict of clerical3 sexual abuse of minors, which attracted the most attention in academic and professional circles as well as in the secular media. However, the norms also address other particularly serious delicts that impair the Church’s mission; some are against the faith and others violate the integrity of the celebration of the sacraments of the Eucharist and penance. Eight years ago the author examined the issue of clerical sexual abuse in some detail in discussing the November 2002 USCCB Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons.4 These norms were initially granted a recognitio for three years by the Congregation for Bishops on December 8, 2002 and took effect on March 1, 2003. A revised version of these norms approved in June 2005 was granted a recognitio on January 1, 2006 and promulgated on May 5, 2006.5 These particular law The Jurist 71 (2011) 120–158 120 * School of Canon Law, Catholic University of America 1 See infra, notes 8 and 10 for detailed information on this text. 2 See infra, note 12 for detailed information on this text. 3 Unlike canon 2357 of the former code, which addressed various sexual violations by laypersons, canon 1395 of the present code, the key code text to which we refer, and the papal norms to be considered address only clerical sexual violations. Yet, at least in the United States, particular diocesan policies implementing Essential Norms also address sexual violations by laity in various ecclesial positions. 4 See Thomas J. Green, “Clerical Sexual Abuse of Minors; Some Canonical Reflections ,” The Jurist 63 (2003) 366–425 (hereafter Clerical Sexual Abuse). 5 For the text of these norms and an accompanying Charter articulating the bishops’ key pastoral concerns and commitment to addressing this issue, see USCCB, Promise to norms are in effect until other arrangements are made by the Holy See (“donec aliud provideatur”). The aforementioned article situated the discussion of the USA clerical sexual abuse norms within a broader universal law context.6 It did so primarily in light of two significant Roman documents on particularly serious delicts including such abuse. First of all, onApril 30, 2001 John Paul II issued the aforementioned motu proprio SST reserving to the exclusive competency of the CDF the handling of a number of particularly serious delicts (graviora delicta) including, but not limited to, clerical sexual abuse of minors.7 The motu proprio promulgated five substantive norms (part one) and twenty-one procedural norms (part two) which were made public only gradually, at first on a need to know basis.8 The motu proprio was followed on May 18, 2001 by a CDF letter to ordinaries entitled de delictis gravioribus9 summarizing the key thrust of the substantive and procedural norms. The aforementioned article commented briefly on SST and the CDF letter since they notably modified the procedural and penal law of the two codes and constituted the broad context within which subsequent USCCB provisions on sexual abuse cases were to be understood. Since the CDF letter addressed some (but not all) of the same concerns as the reflections on the revised may 2010 norms on delicts 121 Protect Pledge to Heal Charter for the Protection of Children andYoung People Essential Norms Statement of Episcopal Commitment Revised June 2005 (Washington: USCCB, 2006). 6 See Clerical Sexual Abuse, 372–380. 7 SST had legal force beginning on February 5, 2002, i.e., three months from the date of its November 5, 2001 publication in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (hereafter AAS). This is because it did not oblige immediately in virtue of the nature of the matter; and SST did not make special...


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