16 Jul 2010

Vatican issues new rules on handling of sex abuse cases

7:42 am on 16 July 2010

The Vatican has issued new instructions to speed up the handling of the "most urgent" cases of sex abuse by priests.

The rules contain "more rapid procedures", the Vatican says.

Priests who sexually abuse a mentally ill adult will now be treated in the same way as those who abuse minors.

It also extend the time in which the Church can take action against anyone who abused a minor from 10 years to 20 years after a victim's 18th birthday.

Existing Vatican guidance to bishops that they should report sexual abusers to civil authorities remains in effect.

The Church's internal justice system for dealing with abuse allegations has come under attack because of claims by victims that their accusations were long ignored, the BBC reports.