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The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses$
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James T. O'Reilly and Margaret S.P. Chalmers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937936.001.0001

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Limitations and Weaknesses in the Canonical Penal System

Limitations and Weaknesses in the Canonical Penal System

Chapter:
(p.381) Chapter 28 Limitations and Weaknesses in the Canonical Penal System
Source:
The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses
Author(s):

James T. O’Reilly

Margaret S. P. Chalmers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937936.003.0028

Inside the Church it is difficult to predict when and how a case against a priest will be resolved, but the bishop is a key player, taking into account that bishops are not accountable to no one other than the pope. Here, U.S. law does not apply and expectations must change to fit the very arcane requirements of the clerical trial process. The chapter discusses the juxtaposition of U.S. law and canon law, and the problems in the system that may stem from faulty assumptions, including those that timeliness is beneficial, that the accusing witness will cooperate and act in good faith. It also discusses the potential that a definitive outcome will not be had, and the uncomfortable situation raised by a dismissal under those circumstances.

Keywords:   procurator, clerical state dismissal, Vatican review, canon law, accountability of bishop

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