Vatican Panel Faces Criticism Over Leniency for Priests Guilty of Abuse

A little-known Vatican appeals panel established by Pope Francis has sharply reduced penalties meted out to priests convicted of sexual abuse under church law in more than a third of the cases that have come before it, drawing criticism from some bishops who favor a harder line. The pontiff has promised a policy of zero tolerance against sex abuse, and critics say the decisions of the panel, composed of eight cardinals and bishops, undermine that message.

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