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CHURCH

Church files on paedophile priests ‘destroyed’, cardinal admits

A top Catholic cardinal admitted on Saturday that Church files on priests who sexually abused children were destroyed or never even drawn up, a move which allowed paedophiles to prey on others.

Church files on paedophile priests 'destroyed', cardinal admits
Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP
“Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,” German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said in a speech to a landmark Vatican summit on tackling paedophilia in 
the clergy.
 
“Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them. The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offences were deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden,” he said.
 
Marx was speaking on the third day of an unprecedented meeting of the world's top bishops which Pope Francis has called in an effort to get on top of a crisis that has dogged the Roman Catholic Church for decades.
 
The ongoing scandals have escalated into a crisis which has touched many countries across the globe, with recent cases affecting Chile, Germany and the US. Investigations have revealed that in many cases priests accused of assaulting minors were transferred to other parishes as bishops turned a blind eye to protect the Church's reputation.
 
“The rights of victims were effectively trampled underfoot, and left to the whims of individuals. These are all events that sharply contradict what the Church should stand for,” Marx said.
 
The cardinal said it was essential that victims felt “that they can trust the system”.
 
“There are no alternatives to traceability and transparency,” he insisted, adding that attempts to cover-up scandals risked seriously undermining the Catholic Church's credibility.
 
Francis has told his bishops he wants “concrete measures” drawn up against child sex abuse, though survivor groups in Rome for the summit have accused the Vatican of fine words but little action.

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WOMEN

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.

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