The RTE 'Would You Believe' documentary, "Unspeakable Crimes", has made an allegation about the Vatican, using a leaked, highly confidential letter, by Luciano Storero, the then Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland. He died in 2000.
The programme stated:
The bishops met to discuss the letter. One bishop's hand written notes reveal how he understood the directive from Rome. " We have received a mandate from the Congregation for the Clergy asking us to conceal the reported crime of a priest".All the mainstream media carried the story that the "Vatican Warned Bishops Not To Report Child Abuse"!
Having read a bit re the above, I would have to disagree.
- the letter nowhere instructed Irish Bishops to disregard civil law reporting requirements.
- The “moral and canonical concerns” mentioned in the letter, according to Fr. Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, concerned the sacrament of confession.
- A main concern of the letter is to ensure that when a bishop takes action against an abuser, his edict should stick – suggesting a fairly tough line on abuse, rather than a drive to cover it up.
- The letter does not directly forbid bishops from reporting abusers to police and prosecutors. Instead, it communicates the judgment of one Vatican office that mandatory reporting policies raise concerns. It’s not a policy directive, in other words, but an expression of opinion.
- The Vatican did not want the Irish Bishops to act independently of the Congregation of the Clergy. Because there was no unified policy from the Vatican to that date, they wanted to formulate a policy document for the English speaking world and wanted time to do this.
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict — successfully petitioned Pope John Paul II to grant in 2001 his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith jurisdiction over all cases of clerical sex abuse of minors. That decision began the process of unifying the Vatican’s response and sidelined officials like Cardinal Castrillon who were pursuing divergent policies.
The Vatican's currently stated policy, which specifies that "civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed."
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