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Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández CREDIT REUTERS banner.JPG
Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández CREDIT REUTERS.JPG
World News

Abuse survivors call for binding ‘zero tolerance’ church law for Catholic clergy

by Heather Preston

A group of clergy abuse survivors and advocates are proposing new legislation be introduced within the Catholic Church to permanently dismiss abusive clergy and leaders who cover it up.

End Clergy Abuse (ECA) released the proposed legislation at a press conference in Rome on Monday.

The campaign group says a new binding and universal Zero Tolerance law is needed to ensure the “permanent removal from the priesthood for any act of sexual abuse or participation in its institutional concealment.”

The call comes a day after the Vatican’s appointment of Cardinal Victor Fernandez as head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) – which investigates sex crimes. The Pope’s controversial nomination fuelled an outcry amongst campaigners due to Fernandez’s history of mishandling abuse cases.

Fernandez has admitted to having made mistakes in the handling of cases as bishop of the La Plata archdiocese, Argentina. He allegedly failed to believe allegations made against priest Eduardo Lorenzo and initially kept him in ministry. Lorenzo was accused of sexually abusing five children. He died before his case could go to court.

Two other cases of Fernandez siding with priests over alleged victims have been documented by the Catholic clergy abuse resource Bishop Accountability.

ECA, which represents abuse survivors and advocates from 25 countries, says Cardinal Fernández defended and protected one of its member’s abusers from the La Plata archdiocese.

The group claims Pope Francis has failed to enforce a zero tolerance policy for sexual abuse and its cover up within the Catholic Church, despite numerous vows to do so. It is demanded that the drafted legislation be introduced at the convening of the Synod.


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