Male religious orders may not be accountable to Catholic Church

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 28, 2016,   

PITTSBURGH — Even as the leadership of a Hollidaysburg, Pa.-based Franciscan province is called to account in criminal court for its handling of a sex offender, the case is raising a broader question:

Just how accountable are male religious orders for following the U.S. Catholic Church’s zero-tolerance policy adopted in 2002?

Such orders are typically authorized by the pope and consist of priests and brothers who make specific vows, typically to poverty, chastity and obedience, with some orders having additional vows.

While dioceses, their bishops and priests are usually the most public face of a church in a given community, religious orders frequently provide the personnel to work in parishes, schools, hospitals, social-service agencies and retreat houses.

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