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Plan to speed up abuse processing

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Two US canon lawyers are expected to begin work at the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation in the next few months as part of an effort to speed up processing of sex abuse cases.

The move follows concern by both US bishops and Vatican officials that more manpower is needed to break through the logjam of abuse cases at the Vatican.

Since new norms went into effect last year, hundreds of cases have arrived at the doctrinal congregation, which has oversight responsibility for all priestly sex abuse cases involving minors. The congregation has added some staff, but the workload has been described by some as overwhelming.

The result is that it may take months to remove even an acknowledged abuser from the priesthood, and longer if an extensive investigation or Church trial is involved.

Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley of Boston was the latest US prelate to express frustration at what he called the “very slow” pace of processing abuse cases.

A Vatican official confirmed that two US canon law experts were expected in Rome in the next few months to help prepare clerical abuse cases for processing. They were likely to be assigned for an 18-month period.

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