"Guidelines, therapeutic counseling, statute of limitations" -- none of this is our language. Catholics use a biblical language of sin, repentance, metanoia, acceptance of punishment and penance -- all of these must accompany a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again.
Waiting for civil authorities to find crimes, asking victims if they wish to press charges -- none of this is the practice of our own justice system. We have neglected the duty to punish, as Pope Benedict said. Our inquisitorial justice system provides (Canon 1430) that a promoter of justice be appointed for cases which can endanger the public good. Such a promoter functions as our investigator and public prosecutor. What diocese in America could not use such a special prosecutor? The churchmen who have done crimes against the liturgy, the creed and morality are NOT the Church. We must never say “the Church has sinned” or “the Church must repent” or “our Diocese is sorry and we are all sad.”
"Look not on our sins,” we ask God, “but the faith of thy Church.” Now too many bishops say, “Look not on my faults but the sins of the Church." The personal-injury lawyers want to sue the Church, not the criminal who betrayed both the victim and Holy Mother Church. The Church and the particular dioceses are on the wrong side of these cases. She too has been aggrieved. She too cries for justice. The Church is Mary; she is spotless. The local Church is Christ’s Body, and He once again has been betrayed. The offending churchman is Judas. He has sinned and the prosecutorial offices of the Petrine Church are meant to wash out the Judas priest and the Judas bishop from the apostolic bond. This is not an optional task, but the Mandatum of Christ issued to Peter and the remaining ten apostles on the evening when the priesthood and Eucharist were instituted.
After the mid-sixties, however, it [ecclesiaistical penal law] was simply not applied any more. The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.
Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and the need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth. And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World interview 2010)