Thursday, January 20, 2011

Would You Believe

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.
It does appear however, that there were power struggles going on between different departments and if any Cardinal was pursuing his own agenda to protect himself and/or other guilty priests then that Cardinal should be questioned.

The Vatican's currently stated policy, which specifies that "civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed."

Further reading:

Is Vatican letter on abuse a 'smoking gun'?
by John L Allen Jr on Jan. 19, 2011

Vatican did not tell Irish bishops to cover up abuse, says spokesman
By Cindy Wooden on Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New report confirms divisions in how Vatican officials were responding to clergy abuse cases in 1990s
Posted in [by Greg Erlandson]

Vatican critical of RTÉ documentary’s “biased treatment” of letter to Irish bishops

Vatican clarifies 1997 letter to Irish bishops

"Vatican Warned Bishops Not To Report Child Abuse"!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. As I explained yesterday, I believe the Pope's response to the Murphy Report was disengenuous and misleading. The response put a spin on the abuse which placed it in a context which was not the reality in Ireland at the time. This response is another example of self serving spin. Basically you believe them and I don't. I guess we'll have to leave it at that.