La responsabilità della gerarchia ecclesiastica nel caso degli abusi sessuali commessi dai chierici, fra diritto canonico e diritti statuali - by Pierluigi Consorti

SOMMARIO: 1. Connessioni e distinzioni tra responsabilità morale e responsabilità giuridica negli ordinamenti religiosi - 2. Responsabilità morale e responsabilità giuridica della gerarchia ecclesiastica - 3. La responsabilità giuridica della gerarchia nell’ordinamento canonico e sue conseguenze negli ordinamenti statuali - 4. La riparazione del danno ingiusto nel diritto canonico. Responsabilità della gerarchia - 5. La responsabilità penale della gerarchia nel caso di abusi sessuali commessi dai chierici - 6. Responsabilità morale, pastorale e comunionale della gerarchia nel caso di abusi sessuali commessi dai chierici.

Catholic Hierarchy Responsibility in Clerical Sexual Abuse: Between Canon Law and Civil Law

This essay aims to demonstrate moral and legal catholic hierarchy responsibility in clerical sexual abuses. Stories about child maltreatment in catholic Church dominated media worldwide. There is no longer any doubt about the need to punish the guilty, both in canon and civil law. It means that they must be punished under criminal law and they must refund victims. However there are divisions about hierarchy responsibility. Some civil courts (eg. in the USA, Canada or Spain) attributed to the diocese the obligation to pay damages. These statements are very criticized by the canonists, who contest the equivalence relationship priest-diocese as a business one. So they claim the legal irresponsibility of hierarchy. At the moment this is the position of the Italian courts.
The present essay defends the opposite view. The hierarchy has a primary moral responsibility, which obliges both to defend the  victims of the abuses committed by the clergy, both the ecclesial community from abusive priests. This moral responsibility translates into a legal one, which requires the hierarchy to refund the victims on the basis of canon law. Therefore, the civil courts may impose diocesan bishops the obligation to refund victims.