By Brittany Pieper – email
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – For years, the issue of sexual abuse by priests has brought the Catholic Church criticism. Thursday, the Vatican tried to address the issue with a new set of guidelines that allows bishops to speed the process of removing an abusive priest and extends the time a victim can report a crime until their 38th birthday. It also makes possessing or distributing child pornography a crime.
However, victim's groups across the nation say the new rules miss the boat because they don't require bishops to report abuse to authorities. The new rules also do not include a one strike, you're out policy that the groups hoped for.
"This is reckless because it lends the impression that the Vatican is taking action, when it's merely a few guidelines," said Mark Serrano, an abuse survivor.
Local Catholics disagree. The Diocese of Shreveport says it supports the new norms, and across the U.S. Bishops are required to report abuse.
"Here in America, we have a zero tolerance policy," said the Diocese of Shreveport's Development Director, John Willcox.
Chris Davis, a parishioner at St. John Bershman's Cathedral in Shreveport says he's had friends criticize him for being Catholic, but in the past decade he's seen the church take action. He, along with all church volunteers and employees, must go through training.
"That training not only teaches us how to spot it, how to deal with it, but how to prevent it," said Davis.
Davis feels the local Catholic Church has responded to the scandal through its actions, and plans to continue raising his children in the faith.
"It's still the same church it's always been. Our creed, our faith, hasn't changed for centuries," said Davis.
Another hot-button issue in the new rules include calling ordaining a woman as a priest a "grave crime".