REFERENCES - on Recurrent false charges against Joseph Ratzinger

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TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, January 8, 2006 4:34 PM
This thread was originally opened in January 2006 to deal with loose and misleading media reporting about lawsuits seeking to involve Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the CDF in sex-offense charges brought by various complainants in the United States against Roman Catholic priests.

The accusation is that as CDF Prefect, he enforced Church procedures that resulted in a systematic cover-up of such sex offenses.

Since then, there have been efforts in the media to link Cardinal Ratzinger to this so-called cover-up. The latest is a scurrilous one-sided documentary by the BBC on "Sex Crimes and the Vatican' aired Oct. 1. 2006.

At that time, referring only to a couple of lawsuits that had been filed in the USA, I had commented :
None of the stories I have read indicates that the reporter has even bothered to look at the letter used by the accusing lawyer as the basis for including the Cardinal in the suit. What they all overlook is that Ratzinger's letter, as well as Pope John Paul's earlier instructions of which the Cardinal's letter was merely a follow-up, refer to the Church's own internal procedures for dealing with "grave crimes" of which members of the clergy are accused.

Liberals and anti-Catholic elements are always vociferous about "separation" of Church and State. Suddenly, they conclude that the Church's internal rules for dealing with accused priests is also meant to apply to civil (lay) proceedings about the same charges! Nothing in these documents states or implies that, nor could any Church documents state or imply any encroachment on the prerogatives of the state.

It has since been made clear that Ratzinger, being Pope Benedict XVI now, has diplomatic immunity from lawsuits by virtue of being head of state of the Vatican. This makes it appear that he is "off" the case on a mere technicality - which is dreadfully wrong and misleading.




No one who has read Cardinal Ratzinger's Meditation and Prayer for the Ninth Station of the Via Crucis at the Roman Colosseum in March 2005 can possibly not be moved by the anguish he expressed about the fallibility of priests - a failing that exceeds more than average human fallibility because priests are supposed to be in persona Christi. I believe it is an appropriate epigraph to meditate upon whenever we come across an instance of a priest who commits an offense that outrages common decency.

MEDITATION

What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison ­ Lord, save us (cf. Mt 8: 25).

PRAYER

Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all
.





Since this matter is bound to be dredged up now and then, and misrepresented by MSM, as it has always been, to place Ratzinger and the Church in the worst light possible, I thought it would be good to create this corner to which you may run for reference the next time you see one of those misleading stories.


There are two basic documents:
1. Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter dated April 30, 2001, "by which are promulgated Norms
concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", and
2. The letter from the CDF signed by Cardinal Ratzinger and sent May 11,2001 "by mandate of
the supreme Pontiff to all the bishops of the Catholic Church..." to clarify the procedure
for dealing with clerical offenses of the type referred to in the Pope's letter, in the hope
"not only that more grave delicts will be totally avoided, but especially that ordinaries and
hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the
faithful even through necessary sanctions."

As of October 2006, I am adding a third document which, due to its length, we cannot post here. Right now, the English version is available from an unlikely site -
http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/Criminales.pdf

This document is the 1962 'Crimen sollecitationis' referred to in the BBC documentary.

----------------------------------------------------------------
As it is quite short, I am reproducing Cardinal Ratzinger's letter first, in an English translation
of the original Latin, from

opusbonosacerdotii.org/ad_exsequendam_ecclesiasticam_l...
This is the link to the original document:
www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20010518_epistula_graviora%20delicta...

LETTER TO ALL BISHOPS, ORDINARIES AND HIERARCHS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
CONCERNING THE GRAVE DELICTS RESERVED TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH


In order to fulfill the ecclesiastical law, which states in Article 52 of the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, "[The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against faith and more grave delicts both against morals and committed in the celebration of the sacraments which have been reported to it and, if necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law,"(1) it was necessary first to define the method of proceeding in delicts against the faith: This was accomplished through the norms titled Agendi Ratio in Doctrinarum Examine, ratified and confirmed by the supreme pontiff, Pope John Paul II, together with Articles 28-29 approved in forma specifica.(2)

At approximately the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, through an ad hoc commission established, devoted itself to a diligent study of the canons on delicts both of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches in order to determine "more grave delicts both against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments" and in order to make special procedural norms "to declare or impose canonical sanctions," because the instruction Crimen Sollicitationis, issued by the supreme sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16, 1962,(3) in force until now, was to be reviewed when the new canonical codes were promulgated.

Having carefully considered opinions and having made the appropriate consultations, the work of the commission finally was completed. The fathers of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith examined the commission's work carefully and submitted to the supreme pontiff conclusions on the determination of more grave delicts and the manner of proceeding to declare or impose sanctions, with the exclusive competence in this of the apostolic tribunal of this congregation remaining firm. All these things, approved by the supreme pontiff himself, were confirmed and promulgated by the apostolic letter given motu proprio beginning with the words Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.

The more grave delicts both in the celebration of the sacraments and against morals reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

-Delicts against the sanctity of the most august eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments, namely:

1. Taking or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose or throwing them away.(4)

2. Attempting the liturgical action of the eucharistic sacrifice or simulating the same.(5)

3. Forbidden concelebration of the eucharistic sacrifice with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have apostolic succession and do not recognize the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.(6)

4. Consecrating for a sacrilegious purpose one matter without the other in the eucharistic celebration or even both outside a eucharistic celebration.(7)

-Delicts against the sanctity of the sacrament of penance, namely:

1. Absolution of an accomplice in sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue.(8)

2. Solicitation in the act, on the occasion or under the pretext of confession, to sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue, if it is directed to sin with the confessor himself.(9)

3. Direct violation of the sacramental seal.(10)

-A delict against morals, namely: the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of 18 years.

Only these delicts, which are indicated above with their definition, are reserved to the apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which unless it calls the case to itself because of special circumstances of things, after transmitting appropriate norms, orders the ordinary or hierarch to proceed ahead through his own tribunal. The right of appealing against a sentence of the first instance, whether on the part of the party or the party's legal representative, or on the part of the promoter of justice, solely remains valid only to the supreme tribunal of this congregation.

It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.

In tribunals established by ordinaries or hierarchs, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests. When the trial in the tribunal is finished in any fashion, all the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

All tribunals of the Latin church and the Eastern Catholic churches are bound to observe the canons on delicts and penalties, and also on the penal process of both codes respectively, together with the special norms which are transmitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for an individual case and which are to be executed entirely.

Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.

Through this letter, sent by mandate of the supreme pontiff to all the bishops of the Catholic Church, to superiors general of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right and clerical societies of apostolic life of pontifical right, and to other interested ordinaries and hierarchs, it is hoped not only that more grave delicts will be entirely avoided, but especially that ordinaries and hierarchs have solicitous pastoral care to look after the holiness of the clergy and the faithful even through necessary sanctions.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 18, 2001.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Prefect

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, SDB

Secretary

---------------------------------------------------------------
Here is John Paul's Apostolic Letter of April 30, 2001, to which Cardinal Ratzinger's letter
was an administrative follow-up:

This is the Vatican link for this document.

www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/SacramentorumAndNormaeEng...

SACRAMENTORUM SANCTITATIS TUTELA
POPE JOHN PAUL II
APOSTOLIC LETTER
GIVEN MOTU PROPRIO


by which are promulgated Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls which must always be the supreme law in the Church (Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1752).

Indeed, Our Predecessors already provided for the sanctity of the sacraments, especially penance, through appropriate Apostolic Constitutions such as the Constitution Sacramentum Poenitentiae, of Pope Benedict XIV, issued June 1, 1741;[1] the same goal was likewise pursued by a number of canons of the Codex Iuris Canonici, promulgated in 1917 with their fontes by which canonical sanctions had been established against delicts of this kind.[2]

In more recent times, in order to avert these and connected delicts, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, through the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis, addressed to all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, and other local Ordinaries even of an Oriental Rite on March 16, 1962, established a manner of proceeding in such cases, inasmuch as judicial competence had been attributed exclusively to it, which competence could be exercised either administratively or through a judicial process. It is to be kept in mind that an Instruction of this kind had the force of law since the Supreme Pontiff, according to the norm of can. 247, § 1 of the Codex Iuris Canonici promulgated in 1917, presided over the Congregation of the Holy Office, and the Instruction proceeded from his own authority, with the Cardinal at the time only performing the function of Secretary.

The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Paul VI, of happy memory, by the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, issued on August 15, 1967,[3] confirmed the Congregations judicial and administrative competence in proceeding according to its amended and approved norms.

Finally, by the authority with which we are invested, in the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, promulgated on June 28, 1988, we expressly established, [The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] examines delicts against the faith and more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, which have been referred to it and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law,[4] thereby further confirming and determining the judicial competence of the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as an Apostolic Tribunal.

After we had approved the Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine,[5] it was necessary to define more precisely both the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions.

With this apostolic letter, issued motu proprio, we have completed this work and we hereby promulgate the Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Norms are divided in two distinct parts, of which the first contains Substantive Norms, and the second Procedural Norms . We therefore enjoin all those concerned to observe them diligently and faithfully. These Norms take effect on the very day when they are promulgated.

All things to the contrary, even those worthy of special mention, notwithstanding.

Give in Rome at St. Peters on April 30, 2001, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V, in the twenty-third year of Our Pontificate.

Pope John Paul II

AAS 93 (2001) 737-739


[Decisions of the Supreme Pontiff made on February 7 and 14, 2003, are indicated in bold type.]

Part One

SUBSTANTIVE NORMS

Art. 1

§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to the norm of art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus,[6] judges more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments, and, whenever necessary, proceeds to declare or impose canonical sanctions according to the norm of both common and proper law, without prejudice to the competence of the Apostolic Penitentiary[7] and with Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine[8] remaining in force.

§ 2. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges the delicts mentioned in § 1 according to the norms which follow.

Art. 2

§ 1. The delicts against the sanctity of the Most Holy Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist, reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for judgement are:

1º the taking or retaining for a sacrilegious purpose, or the throwing away of the consecrated species[9] mentioned in can. 1367 of the Code of Canon Law[10] and in can. 1442 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[11]

2º the attempting of the liturgical offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice mentioned in can. 1378, § 2, n. 1, of the Code of Canon Law,[12] or the simulation of the same, mentioned in can. 1379 of the Code of Canon Law[13] and in can. 1443 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[14]

3º the concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice prohibited in can. 908 of the Code of Canon Law[15] and in can. 702 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[16] mentioned in can. 1365 of the Code of Canon Law[17] and in can. 1440 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[18] with ministers of ecclesial communities, which do not have apostolic succession and do not acknowledge the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.

§ 2. Also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the delict which consists in the consecration for a sacrilegious purpose of one matter without the other in a Eucharistic celebration, or even of both outside of the Eucharistic celebration.[19] One who has perpetrated this delict is to be punished according to the gravity of the crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Art. 3

The delicts against the sanctity of the sacrament of Penance reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for judgement are:

1º the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, mentioned in can. 1378, § 1, of the Code of Canon Law[20] and in can. 1457 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches;[21]

2º the solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue in the act, on the occasion, or under the pretext of confession, mentioned in can. 1387 of the Code of Canon Law[22] and in can. 1458 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[23] if it is directed to sinning with the confessor himself.

3º the direct and indirect violation of the sacramental seal, mentioned in can. 1388, § 1, of the Code of Canon Law[24] and in can. 1456, § 1, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.[25]

4º the recording by any technical instrument and the broadcast/transmission by means of instruments of social communication of that which is said in sacramental confession by the confessor or the penitent (Decree of the CDF of 23 September 1988; AAS 70 [1988] 1367).

Art. 4

§ 1. Reservation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also extended to a delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years.

§ 2. One who has perpetrated the delict mentioned in § 1 is to be punished according to the gravity of the offense, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Art. 5

§ 1. Criminal action for delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by prescription after ten years.[26]

§ 2. Prescription runs according to the norm of can. 1362, § 2, of the Code of Canon Law[27] and can. 1152, § 3, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.[28] However, in the delict mentioned in art. 4, § 1, prescription begins to run from the day on which the minor completes the eighteenth year of age.

Part two

PROCEDURAL NORMS

Title I

The Constitution and Competence of the Tribunal

Art. 6

§ 1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the Supreme Apostolic Tribunal for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Catholic Churches for the judgement of the delicts defined in the preceding articles.

§ 2. This Supreme Tribunal also judges other delicts of which a defendant is accused by the Promoter of Justice by reason of connection of person and complicity.

§ 3. The sentences of this Supreme Tribunal, rendered within the limits of its proper competence, do not need to be submitted for the approval of the Supreme Pontiff.

Art. 7

§ 1. The Members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are by the law itself judges of this Supreme Tribunal.

§ 2. The Prefect of the Congregation presides as first among equals over the college of the Members, and if the office of Prefect is vacant or if the Prefect himself is impeded, the Secretary of the Congregation carries out those duties of the Prefect.

§ 3. It pertains to the Prefect of the Congregation to appoint [other] judges, whether permanent (stabiles) or delegated (deputatos).

Art. 8

It is necessary that such appointed judges be priests, of mature age, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence and expertise in the law. Such priests may at the same time exercise a judicial or consultative function before another Dicastery of the Roman Curia.

Art. 9

To present or sustain an accusation a Promoter of Justice is to be appointed, who is to be a priest, possessing a doctorate in canon law, outstanding in good morals, prudence and expertise in the law. He is to carry out his office in all grades of judgment.

Art. 10

For the functions of Notary and Chancellor, priests are appointed, whether or not they are Officials of this Congregation.

Art. 11

The role of Advocate and Procurator is carried out by a priest, possessing a doctorate in canon law. He is to be approved by the Presiding Judge of the college.

Art. 12

Indeed, in the other Tribunals dealing with cases under these Norms, only priests can validly carry out the functions of Judge, Promoter of Justice, Notary, and Patron [Procurator and Advocate].

Faculty to dispense

The CDF may dispense from the requirement of priesthood and the requirement of a doctorate in canon law mentioned in artt. 8 (judges), 9 (Promoter of Justice, 10 (Notaries and Chancellors), 11 (Advocates and Procurators), 12 (Judges, Promoters of Justice, Notaries, Patrons in other Tribunals)

$ In the case of dispensation from the doctorate in canon law, this dispensation will only be granted to persons who hold a licentiate in canon law and who have worked in ecclesiastical tribunals for a reasonable time. [$ as on source Web site]

$ Concerning judges (artt. 8 and 12) the provisions of can. 1421 shall apply. [$ as on source Web site]

Art. 13

Whenever the Ordinary or Hierarch receives a report of a reserved delict which has at least a semblance of truth [notitiam saltem verisimilem], once the preliminary investigation has been completed, he is to communicate the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it calls the case to itself due to particular circumstances, will direct the Ordinary or Hierarch [how] to proceed further, with due regard, however, for the right to appeal against a sentence of the first instance only to the Supreme Tribunal of the same Congregation.

Extraordinary Faculty to sanate acts

The faculty, in cases legitimately brought to the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, to sanate acts, if procedural laws have been violated by inferior tribunals acting on the mandate of the same Congregation or under art. 13 of the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.


Special Procedure in case of recourse against administrative acts of the CDF concerning delicta graviora cases


In delicta graviora cases, the request for revocation of administrative acts of the CDF and all other recourse against the said acts made in accordance to art. 135 of the Regolomento Generale della Curia Romana, shall be referred to the Feria IV [of the CDF] which will decide on the merits and on questions of lawfulness. Any other recourse under art. 123 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus is excluded.

Art. 14

If a case is referred directly to the Congregation without a preliminary investigation having been undertaken, the steps preliminary to the process, which fall by common law to the Ordinary or Hierarch, are carried out by the Congregation itself.

Art. 15

With due regard for the right of the Ordinary to impose those measures which are established in can. 1722 of the Code of Canon Law[29] or in can. 1473 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,[30] the respective Presiding Judge, may, at the request of the Promoter of Justice, exercise the same power under the same conditions determined in the canons themselves.

Art. 16

The Supreme Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges in second instance:

1º cases adjudicated in first instance by lower tribunals;

2º cases decided by the same Supreme Apostolic Tribunal in first instance.

Title II

The Procedure to be followed in the Judicial Trial

Art. 17

The more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may only be tried in a judicial process.

Faculty to dispense

The faculty is granted to the CDF to dispense from art. 17 in those grave and clear cases which, according to the Particular Congress of the CDF:


a) may be referred directly to the Holy Father for an ex officio dismissal from the clerical state,

or

b) may be treated under the summary process of can. 1720 by the Ordinary who, in case he is of the opinion that the accused should be dismissed from the clerical state, will ask the CDF to impose dismissal by decree.

Art. 18

The Prefect is to constitute a Turnus of three or five judges to try the case.

Art. 19

If in the appellate stage the Promoter of Justice brings forward a specifically different accusation, this Supreme Tribunal can admit it and judge it as if at first instance.

Art. 20

§ 1. In cases concerning the delicts mentioned in art. 3, the Tribunal cannot indicate the name of the accuser to either the accused or his Patron unless the accuser has expressly consented.

§ 2. The same Tribunal must consider the particular importance of the question concerning the credibility of the accuser.

§ 3. Nevertheless, it is to be observed that any danger of violating the sacramental seal must be completely avoided.

Art. 21

If an incidental question arises, the College is to decide the matter by decree as promptly as possible [expeditissime - cf. cann. 1629, n. 5º CIC; 1310, n. 5° CCEO].

Art. 22

§ 1. With due regard for the right to appeal to this Supreme Tribunal, once an instance has finished in any manner before another Tribunal, all of the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

§ 2. The right of the Promoter of Justice of the Congregation to challenge a sentence runs from the day on which the sentence of first instance is made known to this same Promoter.

Art. 23

A res iudicata occurs:

1º if a sentence has been rendered in second instance;

2º if an appeal against a sentence has not been proposed within a month;

3º if, in the appellate stage, the instance is abated or is renounced;

4º if the sentence has been rendered in accord with the norm of art. 16.

Art. 24

§ 1. Judicial expenses are to be paid as the sentence has determined.

§ 2. If the defendant is not able to pay the expenses, they are to be paid by the Ordinary or Hierarch of the case.

Art. 25

§ 1. Cases of this nature are subject to the pontifical secret.[31]

§ 2. Whoever has violated the secret, whether deliberately (ex dolo) or through grave negligence, and has caused some harm to the accused or to the witnesses, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty by the higher Turnus at the request of the injured party or even ex officio.

Art. 26

In these cases, together with the prescripts of these Norms, by which all Tribunals of the Latin Church and Eastern Catholic Churches are bound, also the canons concerning delicts and penalties as well as the canons concerning the penal process of each Code must be applied.

This unofficial translation is based on a translation of the Motu Proprio by the USCCB and a translation of the Norms by Gregory Ingels, both revised by Joseph R. Punderson and Charles J. Scicluna. The translations of the canons of the CIC and the CCEO are from the translations published by the Canon Law Society of America in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

[The translation is reproduced here as it was posted at www.opusbonosacerdotii.org/sacramentorum_sanctitatis_tutela_englis...

[I have omitted the lengthy footnotes in this reproduction]


TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, January 8, 2006 5:07 PM
HOW TO DECONSTRUCT A FALSE REPORT
The Catholic blogger Jim Akins posted this on April 25, 2005 in reaction to what was apparently the first report to appear in the mainstream media about the Ratzinger letter. The story came out on the day of the new Pope installation mass.

Here is Akins's blog with his parenthetical, often sarcastic, comments on the report:
---------------------------------------------------------------

The British "newspaper" The Observer tells us the following:

Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry
Confidential letter reveals Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep allegations secret

Jamie Doward, religious affairs correspondent
Sunday April 24, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI faced [irresponsible know-nothing] claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. The order was made in a confidential [ publicly available] letter, obtained [in a death-defying feat of investigative journalism] by The Observer [by downloading it from the Vatican's web site where it has been available for years [HERE, YOU MORONS], which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001 before the U.S. sex scandal even broke out.

It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors [gasp! next they'll be wanting grand juries to do that!] and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood [whereas what we all know they should do is put the inquiries on Court TV and hold regular press conferences and put all the humiliating charges and counter-charges out in public so we can sell more newspapers and have a media feeding frenzy and ruin the reputations of all involved by humiliating both innocent victims and priests who have been falsely accused]. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week. [Dum! Dum! Dum!]

[Please pay no attention to the fact that the document was part of the implementation effort for a set of norms that Pope John Paul II himself had just enacted nineteen days earlier in a letter [HERE/TRANSLATION WITH NORMS APPENDED], so Ratzinger was just doing what his boss told him to do. That shouldn't get in the way of a good smear on the new pope.]

[Ambulance-chasing] Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim [without any foundation] it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'. [Yes! By saying that the Church's own internal investigation is to be secret, that totally prevents victims from contacting the police and reporting what happened to them. It stops them from obtaining their own civil legal representation. And it stops them from holding press conferences and explaining what happened. You can't have both a closed-door internal Church investigation and a civil investigation at the same time! Everybody knows that!]

The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office [irrelevant historical smear] that once presided over the Inquisition [irrelevant historical smear] and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters which canonical crimes fall under the CDF's jurisdiction, ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. [Ha! Fooled you, didn't we! You thought this document was about the sex abuse scandal (which hadn't yet broken out in the U.S.) and how to cover it up, when really it was simply a clarification of which crimes the CDF has jurisdiction over!] Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric' [and thus prevent the state from doing diddly about them--Not! It says that the CDF has jurisdiction over these cases as far as church law is concerned, saying nothing about what civil courts may do.]

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction time that the CDF has to hear the case before its competence expires 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years. [Which says nothing about how long the secrecy lasts, despite what we said in the second paragraph, and which is actually an increase in the amount of time that one normally has to file a complaint, which is normally only three years [SEE CANON 1362 §1].

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office [Yes! He really said that! "Send them to my office! Don't send them to anybody else. Send them to me only. Only I am to see them. Me. Me. Me."], which has the option [if it feels like taking the afternoon off] of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests' [it being, of course, a bad idea to let priests be judged by "a jury of their peers"].

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims [whose lawyers are obviously incompetent. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims frivolously claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.]

Daniel ("I'm too incompetent to address this matter") Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: 'It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It's an obstruction of justice.'

[Canon law expert John Q. Obvious pointed out that the "clock" of when the complaint can be filed does not start "ticking" when "the kid turns 18." The "kid" can bring an action against the priest even if he is under 18 years of age. What the norms do is guarantee that he has until he is 28 to bring the action so that he isn't forced to bring the action while he is still a child in order to get it heard.]

Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea [who used thumbscrews to wring the tearful and much-resisted admission out of him ]that the letter clarified the church's CDF's jurisdiction and "control" [Dum! Dum! Dum!] over sexual assault crimes in terms of he Church's internal law.

The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church's opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.

'In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,' Bertone said.

Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. 'They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases in terms of their own law. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can't investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,' Shea added. [Because obviously if a Church investigation is under way, or if the ecclesiastical statue of limitations has expired, that totally binds the hands of civil authorities - We're living in a theocracy, after all! There's no point in the victim contacting the civil authorities to report the matter. They're powerless unless the Church allows them to do something here!]

An unnamed [and therefore sinister] spokeswoman in the Vatican press office [who obviously doesn't hang out on the Vatican web site very much] declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. ['This is not a public document since you'd have to, like, go on the Internet to find it, so we would not talk about it,' she said!]

SHEESH!!!

Maklara
00Sunday, January 8, 2006 6:02 PM
secular criminal law versus canonic criminal law
Thank you Theresa for new thread and english version of docs,

I had some some classes of canonic law during my law study at university.
Sorry, but I can't understand where the problem is?

Each member of catholic church is subordinated by canonic law as well as the law of the country where he lives or which citizenship he has.
So there are usually two divided jurisdictions. When priest breaks canonic law, e.g. he reveals confession secret, there will be no authority of secular laws, but he will be punished accordind to the Code Iuris Canonic by excommunication - that penalty has no impact on noncatholic.

So I can't understand why there is problem with internal instructions issued by authority (Roman catholic church) which you are subordinated by your will.

If you read the first letter written by CDF which have to availible in every parish archive in Czech republic or is online on Vatican websites (some news reporters call it secret document), you can see there are crimes and penalties typically only for catholics.
It would be absurd, if prefect of CDF sends the instruction that you firstly have to call firemen if the church burns or you have to inform the police when the crime happens.
The priests and bishops has own responsibilities to the secular law which has to be respected by Vatican.
The church had interests to force the secular law last in Middle Ages.(due to the fact the secular law and canonic wasn't strictly separated)

In secular law we have presumption of innocence so you are unguilty until the final judgement is in force.
And canonic law has the other term for it caled "pontifical secret". This not the name for hiding crimes, it is useful only for internal punishments and church tribunals.

The name of crime which is punished by church authority is:
"the delict committed by a cleric against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of 18 years"
I dont know the criminal laws in US but in our country the criminal delicts of sexual act are "only" with a minor below the age of 15 years (sexual acts with older than 15 is criminal only if it is against will of him/her).

...so there is next proof that this letter is only for church use

And the last thing: if you read properly the Ratzinger letter - there is paragraph:
It must be noted that the criminal action on delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is extinguished by a prescription of 10 years.(11) The prescription runs according to the universal and common law;(12) however, in the delict perpetrated with a minor by a cleric, the prescription begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age.
So this is more tough than time of extinguish in Code Iuris Canonici and other documents. The minor had to achieve the age of 18 and after that the prescription begins to run.

Hope, it is understandable what I wrote above. Sorry if I didn't use proper law terms, some of them are difficult to translate if you know them only in you native language. [SM=g27825]
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, January 8, 2006 6:26 PM
Dear Maklara - Thank you very much indeed for your comments about these documents, especially with your background of law, and for making the clear distinction between secular and canon law.

AS you can see,the problem is not with the Church or with any person of good will who can read at all. The problem is with 1) the enemies of the Church who choose to misrepresent these documents as sayingsomething whch they clearly don't, and 2) the media who report what these enemies of the Church say, without bothering to look into the facts, much less try to present the side of the Church
.


Maklara
00Monday, January 9, 2006 12:38 AM
co-accused
But still, it is absurd that Ratzinger is co-accused in this case.

Firstly:

How can person have responsibility for acts of other people (clerics in US) only on base of internal instruction which he issued as subordinated. If someone thinks this way, it will be more reasonable (if we can speak about reason in this case) co-accuse John Paul II that he issued Motu Proprio as sovereign. Ratzinger was only loyal officer.


At second and the more dangerous thing:

Maybe it will be very interesting to read whole reading of this co-accusati0n(and not only for fun). This sounds like restraint of religion freedom which is very important human right.

I find it similar to situation when pope designated a new bishop and bishop consecrator was accused of consecrating him (internal act as well). This really happened in former Czechoslovakia in times of communistic regime.


The fact that the pope has diplomatic immunity as head of state is the last thing.

Sorry, but I am little bit annoyed. [SM=g27826]
This the last word I wrote about it. It's not worth to write.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, January 9, 2006 1:29 AM
Dear Maklara - I know exactly how you feel, and I know it's more than just being annoyed.
My blood pressure surges when I read anything connected with this "case" because none of it
makes sense legally - in fact, I believe one US court had dismissed a similar attempt to
implicate Ratzinger in a sex-abuse suit by throwing out the charge against him as "frivolous" -
or even just from plain COMMON SENSE!

Actually, I decided to open this thread because the Italian girls in the main forum were going
to such efforts to answer someone who is merely citing news reports and "documentation" provided
by anti-Ratzinger lawyers to gloat over the fact that Ratzinger is "being sued".

I told them not to waste their breath arguing with someone who is obviously hostile to Ratzinger
and has a closed mind that will never consider any argument that is contrary to what he/she
has already decided he/she wants to believe. WHAT FOR?

But at least I want the documents available for easy reference by anyone who may not have
the background about this case and who is willing to read and understand what is written,
so they will not be mislead by these false, half-truthful or distorted news reports about the case.

But please, I hope you will continue to comment about this whenever you think it is necessary!
And thank you....
mag6nideum
00Monday, January 9, 2006 3:01 AM
This so called law case business
The whole silly business and the way it is taken up by some gloating *&@#%*_ of the press make me see red. On the other hand, I don't think people who are against Christianity will ever stop grabbing at the slightest possibility to paint church leaders in grim colours. It is part and parcel of the history of the faith. So, even if we defend people like the Pope and put the facts on the table, our inner beings can relax and trust that the Lord will not let our Papa be hurt. Not all people are fools. They see through these "liberal" and drama- seeking attempts. Don't let your blood pressure be raised too much, Teresa! [SM=x40790]
Discipula
00Thursday, January 19, 2006 2:21 PM
Just a quick note

As you certainly know we have a similar thread in the main forum. I don't know much about European and NAmerican press, but what annoyed me to the utmost when reading Italian articles and essays about this subject was the misuse of legal terms [SM=g27825] .

The authors often wrote things as if Papa Ratzinger had committed a criminal offence and were criminally responsible for covering up the sexual abuses of minors. Some writers did not even bother to explain the lawsuit started by Mr. Shea was not a criminal proceeding but a civil one and as such Joseph Ratzinger was not convicted but summoned as a defendant. I wonder whether they made such mistakes just out of ignorance (which is not excusable as well [SM=g27812] ) or with the mischievous intent of spoiling Papa's reputation. [SM=g27826]

As for the contents of the document, having a legal background myself, I totally agree with Maklara's conclusions about its having just canonical effects and its not having been released to affect secular courts in any way.

Bye bye. [SM=g27823]



Catobsessed
00Tuesday, February 14, 2006 2:59 AM
Thanks Discipula!
I greatly appreciated your input on this matter, come visit us more often [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823] And why don't you call yourself Magistra instead of Discipula [SM=g27833] [SM=g27828] I think it would suit you better [SM=g27823] [SM=g27823]

Greetings
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, October 2, 2006 4:06 PM
BACKGROUND ON 1962 'CRIMEN SOLLICITATIONIS'
Thanks to FanofBenedictXVI who - in alerting us Friday to a BBC program slamming the Catholic Church and the Pope in his capacity as Prefect of the CDF from 1981-April 2005 for having allegedly engineered the cover-up of sex offenses that may have been committed by priests - also cited this August 2003 rebuttal by John Allen of this absurd accusation.

It may be found on
www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/update/bn080703.htm
but for convenient reference, I am posting it here.


1962 document orders secrecy in sex cases:
Many bishops were unaware
obscure missive was in their archives

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome, August 7, 2003


A 1962 Vatican document ordering secrecy in cases of sexual misconduct by priests is not, according to canon lawyers, a "smoking gun" providing evidence of a cover-up of sex abuse orchestrated by Rome.

Civil attorneys handling lawsuits against the Catholic church have pointed to the document as evidence of obstruction of justice.

For one thing, canon lawyers say, the document was so obscure that few bishops had ever heard of it. For another, they say, secrecy in canonical procedures should not be confused with refusal to cooperate with civil authorities. The 1962 document would not have tied the hands of a bishop, or anyone else, who wanted to report a crime by a priest to the police.

The 39-page document, titled in Latin Crimen Sollicitationis, was issued in March 1962 by the Holy Office (today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

It established a procedure for canonical cases in which priests were accused of abusing the confessional to sexually proposition penitents.

Four concluding paragraphs extend the procedure to the crimen pessimum, or "worst crime," meaning homosexual acts contrary to a priest's celibate commitment. The document was not designed to address sexual abuse of minors, but would include many such violations.

Paragraph 11 of the document stipulates that such cases are covered by the "secret of the Holy Office," today known as pontifical secrecy, the strictest form of secrecy in church law. Excommunication is prescribed for anyone who violates this secrecy.

The document was itself to be kept secret. Instructions on Page One direct that it be stored in the secret archives of each diocese, and that it not be published or commented upon.

Msgr. Thomas Green, canon law expert at The Catholic University of America, told NCR Aug. 4 that unlike most church legislation, Crimen Sollicitationis was never published in the official Vatican bulletin Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The document recently came to light because it was referenced in a footnote to a May 18, 2002, letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, to the bishops of the world regarding new procedures for sex abuse cases.

Boston attorney Carmen L. Durso sent a copy of the document July 28 to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, arguing that it may prove the Catholic church has been obstructing justice.

"This document may provide the link in the thinking of all of those who hid the truth for so many years," Durso said, as quoted by the July 29 Worcester Telegram and Gazette. "The constant admonitions that information regarding accusations against priests are to be deemed 'a secret of the Holy Office' may explain, but most certainly do not justify, their actions," Durso told the federal attorney.

Oblate Fr. Francis Morrisey of St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, told NCR Aug. 4 that he doubts the document had such an effect, because few bishops knew Crimen Sollicitationis even existed.

"The document was so secret that it couldn't even be mentioned," Morrisey said. "I'm inclined to believe that most bishops were unaware of its existence and contents until a situation arose, and so it never crossed their mind to take cover under this text."

Crimen Sollicitationis dealt with canonical cases against a priest that could lead to removal from ministry or expulsion from the priesthood. Its imposition of secrecy thus concerned the church's internal disciplinary process. It did not, according to canonical experts, prevent a bishop or anyone else from reporting a crime against a minor to the civil authorities.

"Of course, a bishop couldn't use this document to cover up denunciation of an act of sexual abuse," Morrisey said. "The document simply wasn't made for that purpose."

Green said the document was issued by the Holy Office because it had responsibility for dealing with "serious violations of the sacrament of penance."

Canon lawyers told NCR that secrecy in canonical cases serves three purposes:

First, it is designed to allow witnesses and other parties to speak freely, knowing that their responses will be confidential.

Second, it allows the accused party to protect his good name until guilt is established.

Third, it allows victims to come forward without exposing themselves to publicity.

The high degree of secrecy in Crimen Sollicitationis was also related to the fact that it dealt with the confessional.


Those motives for confidentiality, experts say, must be distinguished from a widespread "mentality" that sought to protect the church from scandal by not reporting sexual abuse by priests to the police.

As a matter of canon law, the obligation of secrecy in canonical cases does not prohibit a bishop or other church officials from reporting crimes to the proper authorities.

Conflicts may arise, however, if civil authorities seek access to the secret acts of canonical procedures.

That Crimen Sollicitationis was not designed to "cover up" sex abuse, canonists say, is clear in paragraph 15, which obligates anyone with knowledge of a priest abusing the confessional for that purpose to come forward, under pain of excommunication for failing to do so.

This penalty is stipulated, the document says, "lest [the offense] remain occult and unpunished and always with inestimable detriment to souls."

Canon lawyers also note that pontifical secrecy is hardly reserved to sexual abuse.

Under a Feb. 4, 1974, instruction Secreta Continere, pontifical secrecy covers:

1) Documents for which pontifical secrecy is expressly indicated;

2) Affairs dealt with by the Secretariat of State under pontifical secrecy;

3) Doctrinal denunciations and publications of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as its investigations;

4) Extrajudicial denunciations of crimes against the faith or against morals, and crimes against the sacrament of penance, as well as the procedures leading to these denunciations;

5) Acts by Vatican representatives relative to matters covered by the pontifical secret;

6) Creation of cardinals;

7) Nomination of bishops, apostolic administrators and other ordinaries with episcopal power, and the procedures related to these appointments; 8) Nomination of superiors and other major officials of the Roman curia;

9) Codes and coded correspondence;

10) Affairs and practices of the pope, of the chief cardinal or archbishop of a dicastery and of pontifical representatives.

National Catholic Reporter, August 7, 2003

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 02/10/2006 16.08]

Chickadee
00Monday, October 2, 2006 6:59 PM
OK Everybody - Here are Rocco Palmo's "Thoughts" on the matter. He thinks that by co-operating with the BBC programme, the Church would have helped itself. This is ridiculous on its face, since the BBC led with the erroneous reports on the Pope's Regensburg address, but suffice it to say that there is no point in co-operating with an organization that is out to get you from the get-go. Here's his report.

***************************************************

UK Bishops to BBC: Crimen Prejuditionis
Over the past week there's been a rising tide of tumult coming from across the Pond in anticipation of a BBC program on abuse and the church, which aired last night on Panorama.

As Holy See refused to cooperate from the outset, the "in-house" component is made up of the victim advocate Fr Tom Doyle and a former cleric, both with less-than-laudatory views and experience of the handling of cases. Throw into the mix deposition footage of a serial-predator priest, but a couple of the many harrowing survivor accounts out there and a slant in search of something to stick to "Cardinal Ratzinger," whose name (and now-former dicastery) get taken on an excessive drag through the mud, and you have a highly incendiary, emotionally devastating product, albeit one built on lapses of detail and context.

Notably, the most significant sign of the changing climate -- i.e. Maciel -- is nowhere mentioned. And that's something the elsewhere-omnipresent "Cardinal Ratzinger" actually had quite a bit to do with.

Then again, the elision should underscore anew (as if it was news to anyone?) that to slam the door shut to the media, especially with a high-profile exploration which could prove extremely damaging, serves no purpose but to reinforce the initial preconceptions of the press and give the church side even less of a quarter with which to speak credibly, or speak at all....

And this restores trust, how?

As you would guess, the bishops of England and Wales are incandescent at the portrayal.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is to protest to Mark Thompson, the corporation's director general, about last night's "unwarranted" and "deeply prejudiced" BBC1 Panorama programme....

The English and Welsh bishops were denied a preview film by the BBC because the Vatican had refused to co-operate in the making of it.

But a leaked copy was sent to the bishops in Spain, where they were on retreat last week, and they watched it together on Saturday evening and decided that the cardinal should protest vigorously. A statement issued yesterday by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, revealed the extent of their anger.

He said that as a public service broadcaster, the BBC should be "ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict XVI".

The archbishop said that viewers would recognise "only too well the sensational tactics and misleading editing of the programme, which uses old footage and undated interviews.

They will know that aspects of the programme amount to a deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader."

Archbishop Nichols, the chairman of the Catholic office for the protection of children and vulnerable adults, described the evil of child abuse depicted in the documentary as "horrific and deeply distressing".

But he said that the thrust of the programme was "false and entirely misleading" because it misrepresented two Vatican documents.
Repeat: When the church doesn't cooperate, refusing to offer even a cup of tea and some background, a "culture of secrecy" looks even more like... a culture of secrecy.

If you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention.

It's not as if by putting fingers in ears, the media's going to go away. If anything, it's multiplying. And constructively engaging it, using its interest and seizing the opportunity to: 1. win back some shred of credibility, tough interview by tough interview and 2. shock everyone with the effectiveness of real openness -- one that counters the notions and the inexcusably low expectations much of the hierarchy has earned for its press strategies -- is the first building block of not just a fuller story, but a purer, safer, holier (i.e. better and, ergo, more alluring) church, one which shows that it's learned its lessons and seeks to be worthy again of the public trust.

Anything less just amplifies the belief that it's business as usual in Catholicism... and is it?

It isn't news, people: When you've got a lemon, make lemonade. The lemon might just be one of its own device but, indeed, there is a point where the church can stop digging its hole.... And that starts by opening the door.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Monday, October 2, 2006 7:14 PM
Thanks to Amy Welborn, I have belatedly found out that - but of course, he would have - canon lawyer Ed Peters who writes the blog "In the Light of the Law' also commented quite promptly last year to the Observer article that Jimmy Akins 'fisked' so thoroughly (see my post on 10/8/05 above]. I am posting it here but the link is www.canonlaw.info/blogarch05.htm
----------------------------------------------------------------

Much Ado About Not Much
27 April 2005

Perhaps you’ve seen recent press stories about then-Cardinal Ratzinger's "secret letter" to all bishops in May 2001 wherein the one-time head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, now Pope Benedict XVI, allegedly ordered black-out grade secrecy on ecclesiastical investigations of clergy sex abuse allegations.

Depending on which version of the story you encounter, you might also hear that leaks of Church investigations will be punished with papal excommunication, that the Church claims secret jurisdiction over such cases for ten years, etc., etc.

Folks, from where I sit, it seems much ado about not much.

First, the CDF letter is so secret that it’s been posted on the Vatican website for some time now. I noticed it months ago. It’s in Latin because it is addressed to all the bishops of the world, and it is common Vatican practice to send out important communications in one common language rather than in umpteen vernacular versions. For those whose Latin is rusty, some versions of the CDF letter include links to websites that translate Latin vocabulary.

Second, the CDF letter had as one important aim to settle certain procedural questions among canonists as to which canonical crimes are “reserved” to CDF per 1983 CIC 1362, that is, which ecclesiastical offenses are considered serious enough that Rome itself could adjudicate the case instead of allowing the normal canons on penal jurisdiction to operate (e.g., 1983 CIC 1408, 1412). These canons were on the books long before the clergy sexual abuse crisis erupted, but their interpretation had been disputed. CDF’s letter cleared up much of the confusion.

Third, in extending jurisdiction over these cases to 10 years past the alleged victim’s 18th birthday, CDF actually increased the amount of time that Church officials (whether diocesan or Roman) had to prosecute these offenses. Before CDF’s letter, canonical prosecutions were complicated by unduly short statutes of limitations—the very same problem, by the way, that state prosecutions encountered in many pedophilia cases. CDF was hardly obstructing justice; it was trying to make justice more available.

Fourth, keep in mind that most ecclesiastical crimes are not crimes under civil law, and that the Church obviously legislates for the majority of cases she encounters. For most canonical offenses, then, secrecy in criminal matters (1983 CIC 1455, 1717) accomplishes several goods: 1) protecting the integrity of the investigation; 2) shielding victims from untimely or unwanted exposure; 3) protecting accused, especially the wrongly accused, from devastating publicity; and so on.

Need I say that numerous civil authorities conduct secret investigations for exactly the same kinds of reasons?

More importantly, though, nothing whatsoever in CDF’s letter prevents or discourages victims (or their parents) from going to the police, private attorneys, or even the press with their stories. CDF, it seems, has a lot to learn about how to obstruct justice.

Of course, a few ecclesiastical crimes are also crimes under civil law. Where two great powers overlap in a very serious matter, as happens when Church and state are confronted with evidence of child sexual abuse by priests, genuine legal and procedural questions can arise. Again, there is nothing new here.

Working out the best manner of accommodating the rights and duties of both systems might require some discussion, but there are no insurmountable obstacles to doing just that. In the meantime, the process is not helped by plaintiffs’ attorneys hurling accusations of medieval secrecy at Church leaders. [With a Church-baiting, Pope-hostile media eager, willing and able to help them publicize their absurd claims!]

----------------------------------------------------------------



TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, January 13, 2007 3:20 PM
NEW TWIST TRIED TO MAKE VATICAN RESPONSIBLE FOR SEX ABUSES!
As a news item, I posted this earlier in NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH. Although this time, it is not Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI who is personally being targeted, the Vatican is, on the basis of the same 'smoking gun' that American lawyers have been alleging for years, the 1962 Crimen sollecitationis document posted previously in this thread.

The pot at the end of the rainbow for many American lawyers representing victims of priestly sexual abuse is nothing less than the Vatican treasury, and there's nothing they won't try to get a legal ruling that the Vatican itself is directly culpable for the individual offenses committed by priests and for those of bishops who may have helped them cover their tracks.

I'm glad John Allen tackles this question today. I was just going to post a CWN news item about the latest news development in this vainglorious quest, but I'll start with this.


Kentucky lawsuit asks,
‘Is every bishop an ‘agent’ of the Vatican?’

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
New York
Posted on Jan 12, 2007



In itself, news yesterday that a judge in Kentucky has allowed a lawsuit naming the Vatican as a defendant in a sex abuse case to proceed is not a thunderclap. A handful of lower courts have made similar rulings, but no American appeals court has ever upheld a challenge to the Holy See’s sovereign immunity, and most legal scholars believe it’s a long-shot this time around.

What’s more intriguing is the basis upon which U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II made his ruling. While he tossed out several arguments from the plaintiffs, he found they may be able to prove that Roman Catholic bishops are actually “agents” of the Vatican, and hence the Vatican may be liable under an exception to sovereign immunity if a bishop causes harm in the course of executing Vatican policy.

While previous lawsuits have attempted – always unsuccessfully – to argue that abuser priests were employees of the Vatican, this is apparently the first time the argument has pivoted upon the bishops.

All three plaintiffs in the Kentucky case grew up in the Louisville archdiocese. One, Michael Turner, was molested by Louis E. Miller, who was removed from the priesthood in 2004 by John Paul II after pleading guilty to sexually abusing Turner and other children in the 1970s. He is serving a 13-year prison sentence. The plaintiffs’ attorney, William McMurry, is seeking to have the case certified as a class-action lawsuit, which would allow other abuse victims to join. In 2003, McMurry represented 243 victims who settled with the archdiocese for $25.3 million.

To be clear, Heyburn has not found that bishops really are Vatican agents. Instead, he ruled that if the plaintiffs can show that there was a Vatican-ordered cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, and if the bishop in Lousiville was a Vatican agent, and if his enforcement of that policy caused harm to the plaintiffs, then they may be able to overcome the traditional barrier to suing a sovereign state.

Obviously, there are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence, and none of them has been legally established as a matter of fact.

By way of background, sovereign states have historically enjoyed more or less blanket immunity in one another’s courts. In the modern period, however, as states began to engage in a wide range of commercial activities, and as the presence of foreign agents on American soil expanded, exceptions began to crop up.

To regularize the situation, the U.S. adopted the “Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act” of 1976, which reiterated the principle of immunity, but carved out two exceptions. Courts can hear cases against foreign governments under a “commercial activity” exception, such as a case in which a state-operated enterprise has defaulted on a contract or wrongfully deprived someone of their property. There’s also a “tort exception,” to cover a case in which an agent of a foreign state causes harm as a result of a policy or directive of that government.

Legal analysts say, however, that the Kenucky plaintiffs face a stiff challenge in trying to apply these exceptions to the Vatican.

First, they would have to show that the Vatican had a formal policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests. The formal policy for Catholic priests, however, then and now, is celibacy.

The shocking fact that many bishops, priests and laity looked the other way while clergy abused children is not the result of a Vatican edict, but rather the Catholic culture of the time, which put priests on a pedestal and preferred not to air the church’s dirty linen.

The Vatican was as guilty as everyone else – probably more so than some – but not because there was a motu proprio to that effect. I’ve already written extensively on the Vatican document cited in the Kentucky case, Crimen Sollicitationis from 1962, but suffice it to say that the document was obscure, and in any event it dealt with the church’s internal disciplinary process. It said nothing on the question of what to tell police, courts, or child protection agencies, and therefore it’s difficult to use it to prove a “cover-up.”

Second, the plaintiffs would have to prove that all 4,500 Catholic bishops in the world are Vatican “agents.” Certainly, there’s an argument to be made – bishops are appointed by the pope, and only the pope, usually through the Congregation for Bishops, exercises any sort of “supervision.”

On the other hand, in ecclesiological terms, a bishop is not an “agent” of the Vatican, but rather the Vicar of Christ in his local church, successor to the apostles in his own right. In the 19th century, when Chancellor Bismarck circulated an analysis stating that the teaching on papal primacy of the First Vatican Council had reduced local bishops precisely to “Vatican agents,” the German bishops protested.

The pope’s “ordinary, immediate and universal jurisdiction” only meant, they wrote to Bismarck, that the pope could intervene when the good of the local church required it, not that bishops had been deprived of their autonomy. Pope Pius IX officially confirmed the authenticity of their interpretation.

In other words, should the defense lawyer in the Kentucky case decide to do so, he could produce a papal ruling specifically rebutting the claim that bishops are “agents” of the Holy See.

In American jurisprudence, someone is usually considered an “agent” of a foreign government if they’re on its payroll, which of course is not the case with bishops. Moreover, in normal Catholic argot, one refers to “Vatican officials” to mean members of the Roman Curia who report directly to the pope.

In other words, for the normal Catholic, the Roman Curia is where one goes to find “Vatican agents,” not the local diocesan chancery. (Some may suspect their local bishop is more worried about the opinions of those Vatican officials than his own flock, but that’s a question of bureaucratic psychology, not formal policy).

Third and finally, plaintiffs would have to show that the Archbishop of Louisville, in making the decisions that ended up putting these three plaintiffs in harm’s way, was acting specifically on the basis of Crimen sollicitationis. Given that 99 bishops out of 100 had never heard of the document prior to press discussion of it in 2003, that’s something of a stretch.

The documents most bishops did know about it – the Code of Canon Law, for example, or popular manuals of moral theology – certainly did not condone priests who abused their office.

For these reasons, most analysts think the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail. Heyburn styled his ruling yesterday as “not final,” suggesting that perhaps he wants to hear additional arguments on the question of bishops as “Vatican agents” before he reaches a final conclusion. Thus it’s not clear if the next act of this drama will be played out before Heyburn, or a federal appeals court.

Despite the steep obstacles in American courts to overcoming immunity, it’s worth noting that the Vatican nevertheless takes this sort of thing seriously indeed. Back in February 2005, Cardinal Angelo Sodano raised the question of the Holy See’s immunity with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during a meeting at the Vatican, specifically asking that the State Department intervene in this very case in Kentucky. (In the past, the State Department has made representations to courts invoking the principle of sovereign immunity on behalf of foreign governments, including the Holy See).

Vatican officials are aware that four American dioceses have filed for bankruptcy under the weight of payouts related to sex abuse litigation: Portland, Ore.; Davenport, Iowa; Spokane, Wash.; and Tucson, Ariz. They have no wish to go down the same road.

To date, the wall of immunity has held up. As with floods and hurricanes, however, the problem with lawsuits is that it only take one disaster to produce a world of hurt.

=============================================================

The CWN item highlights that Judge Weyland's ruling does give a green light to Vatican-chasing lawyers, never mind the 'if's':


US federal judge allows
sex-abuse lawsuit against Vatican


Jan. 11, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A federal judge in Kentucky has ruled that sex-abuse plaintiffs can proceed with a lawsuit seeking damages from the Vatican.

Judge John Heyburn allowed three men to begin collecting evidence to support their charge that Vatican officials were negligent in protecting them from abusive clerics. The ruling would allow the plaintiffs to demand documents from the Vatican and take testimony from officials in Rome.

Judge Heyburn based his ruling on the plaintiffs' claim that the American bishops were acting as agents or employees of the Holy See when they allowed known abusers to remain in clerical ministry. In his ruling the judge reported that lawyers for the Church had declined to contest that claim. If the Holy See can demonstrate that US bishops are not Vatican employees, he said, the ruling could be reconsidered.

The Kentucky ruling marks the first time that an American court has allowed plaintiffs to pursue a sex-abuse lawsuit in which the Vatican is the sole defendant. In past cases, lawyers for the Church have argued successfully that the Holy See is immune from suits as a sovereign power.

In this case the court found that - if the US bishops are Vatican employees - the case could qualify for treatment under US law allowing suits against sovereign powers whose employees or agents cause harm while acting in their official capacities.

While allowing the plaintiffs to proceed with their efforts to demonstrate negligence on the part of the Vatican, the judge threw out two other claims, which had alleged that the Vatican engaged in deceit about sexual abuse and failed to protect children under the care of the Church. The decision by Judge Heyburn in a US district court is likely to be appealed.

=======================================================

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 11:42 PM
OCTOBER 2006 BBC DOCUMENTARY MAKES NEWS IN ITALY


I have decided to post in this thread informative stories previously posted in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT or NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH that have to do with the public discussion going on in Italy since mid-May 2007 about the BBC documentary entitled "Sex Crimes and the Vatican."

Please do not forget that the main target of the documentary is Pope Benedict who is falsely accused by the BBC, on the basis of a patently false reading of documents - which clearly and explicitly say the opposite of what BBC alleges - of having been responsible for covering up sex offenses by priests as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Italian media did not really pay attention to the story when it first erupted last October because the documentary was only shown in the United Kingdom.

However, shortly after the very successful Family Day rally on May 12, a gay site in Italy placed the documentary online with Italian subtitles. This caught the attention of, among others, one Michele Santoro, host of a talkshow called ANNOZERO (ZeroYear) on one of the channels of RAI, Italian State TV.

He made a big fuss about it in the media and in effect, was able to pressure RAI into buying the rights for the documentary so he could use it on his program. It is now scheduled to be shown on May 31, but the delay was supposedly in order to enable RAI to arrange for some way in which the Vatican could present its side.

It is still not known what form this rebuttal will take or its timing with regard to the airing of the documentary itself.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, May 26, 2007 11:45 PM
A CONSPIRACY OF MALICE
The title given to this piece, translated from THE 5/23/07 issue of Il Foglio, is much too kind. It is not so much ignorance - and if it is, then it is deliberate ignorance, because this is not nuclear physics - rather, it is genuine, active malice against the Church and against the Pope that is behind all this furor.

There is a conspiracy (even if not formal) of malice and prejudice, not ignorance, as one can tell even by the posts of the resolute anti-Church members of this Forum (the Italian section) who have been saying the same things over and over for the past two years on this issue, without ever once replying to the factual and textual evidence, which they obviously refuse to look at.




A conspiracy of the ignorant
By Massimo Introvigne



Only secular rage after the success of Family Day could explain why suddenly BBC's October 2006 documentary "Sex Crimes and the Vatican" started circulating on the Internet with Italian subtitles, and TV talkshow host Michele Santoro got into the act.

The documentary itself was almost immediately shown to be 'damaged goods' after it was first aired. Its patently false claims were easily shredded by canon law experts who showed how it deliberately failed to distinguish between Church law and civil law.

The Church has its own penal law for its priests, where sanctions and penalties applied to offenders have nothing to do with the civil law, even if a priest could be found guilty of an offense under both canon law and civil law. In which case, the Church would either suspend the offender from exercising his ministry, return him to secular status or excommunicate him, depending on the severity of the offense. And the State would fine and/or imprison him.

On April 30, 2001 Pope John Paul II published the Apostolic Letter "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela», which contained a series of norms about which canonical penal proceedings were reserved to the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and which ones to other Vatican or diocesan tribunals.

The letter «De delictis gravioribus» signed by Joseph Ratzinger as CDF Prefect on May 18, 2001 - which the BBC presented as a 'secret' document - constituted the rules applying the norms stated by the Pope. This 'secret' document was, in fact, immediately published in the official bulletin of the Holy See and on the Vatican site.

In Paragraph 3 of the letter from Ratzinger, he cites the instruction «Crimen sollicitationis» issued by the CDF on March 16, 1962, when it was still known by its traditional name, the Holy Office, and 20 years before Ratzinger came to the CDF.

This long-forgotten document - which resurfaced precisely because of Ratzinger's letter - dealt with the old problem of priests who abuse the sacrament of confession to start a sexual involvement with someone in their flock.

The 1962 instruction does not hide that abuse but rather makes clear that any priest who becomes aware of such things should report it, and that failing to do so could be ground for excommunication.

It also provides that charges and investigations should not be made public prematurely to protect the privacy of witnesses and that of the person charged who, as in civil law, is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Ratzinger's 2001 letter, contrary to what the documentary charges, in fact sets up more severe sanctions for cases of sexual abuse of minors, extending the statute of limitations beyond the normal, up to when whoever claims to have been a victim reaches the age of 28.

The severity of the Church against priests accused of abusing minors was stepped up since Benedict XVI became Pope. Archbishop William Levada, whom he named to succeed him at CDF, has had first-hand experience in dealing with cases of abusive priests. [Two major Church figures have been sanctioned so far under Benedict for sex offenses - the Italian Gino Burresi and the Mexixan Maciel Macias.]

All the norms spelled out in these documents have to do with canon law (Church law) and have nothing to do with civil law. Nor do they affect the general principle that anyone in the Church who learns something, outside the confessional, of offenses punishable by civil law, has the duty to report this to the proper civilian authorities.

The deliberate misinformation - clearly aimed to sling mud against the Pope - is simply the fruit of prejudice and ignorance.


Il Giornale, 23 maggio 2007


A word about Massimo Introvigne, whose articles we have translated here on several occasions:

He is the managing director of the Turin-based CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, established in 1988 by a group of religious scholars from leading universities in Europe and the Americas. Introvigne has taught sociology and history of religion in a number of Italian universities.

He is the author of twenty-three books and the editor of another ten in the field of religious sciences. In 2006, he published two books, "Il dramma dell'Europa senza Cristo" (The tragedy of Europe without Christ) and "La Turchia e l'Europa: Religione e politica nell'Islam turco" (Turkey and Europe: Religion and politics in Turkish Islam), as well as a book translated to English, "Beyond the Da Vinci Code: History and myths of the Priory of Sion".


CESNUR is quite active as one can see from a visit to their site
www.cesnur.org/default.htm
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:00 AM
Italian bishops insist on air time
to rebut BBC program on sex abuse


By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY, May 23 (CNS) -- Church officials must have an opportunity to comment on-air if Italy's state-run television airs a British documentary about the priest sex abuse crisis, said an Italian bishops' conference official.

"We do not want any censorship," Bishop Giuseppe Betori, general secretary of the Italian bishops' conference, told reporters May 22 in the midst of a very public debate over whether RAI, the state-run television network, should broadcast "Sex Crimes and the Vatican," a 2006 documentary of the British Broadcasting Corp.

Officials at RAI announced late May 22 that they would permit the program to be broadcast, but said the 40-minute documentary would be aired within the context of a talk show, and the guests would include officials from the Italian church.

Bishop Betori said it was essential that someone, either at RAI or the bishops' conference, explain to the public "all of the falsities it seems to contain" when the program airs, probably May 31.

He said the program implies that when Pope Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he issued norms for handling clerical sex abuses cases aimed at covering up the crimes.

The documentary said that in 2001 then-Cardinal Ratzinger issued an updated version of a 1962 Vatican document, "Crimen Sollicitationis" ("The Crime of Solicitation"), which the documentary said laid down the rules for covering up sexual scandals.

After the documentary aired Oct. 1 in Great Britain, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster lodged a formal complaint with the BBC, saying that while no one could deny the "devastating effects of child abuse in our society," particularly when committed by a priest, the documentary "sets out to inflict grave damage on Pope Benedict."

"The main focus of the program is to seek to connect Pope Benedict with (the) cover-up of child abuse in the Catholic Church," the cardinal said. "This is malicious and untrue and based on a false presentation of church documents."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, England, had criticized the documentary as a "deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader," misrepresenting the two Vatican documents.

"The first document, issued in 1962, is not directly concerned with child abuse at all but with the misuse of the confessional," he said. "The second document clarified the law of the church, ensuring that the Vatican is informed of every case of child abuse and that each case is dealt with properly. ... It is a measure of the seriousness with which the Vatican views these offenses."
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:04 AM
SEX CRIMES AND THE VATICAN: LET'S REVIEW THE RECORD
Because of the much-belated furor in Italy about a distorted and defamatory documentary by the BBC mainly targeted at Pope Benedict XVI and aired in the United Kingdom last October, Sandro Magister in his blog today refers to previous rebuttals of the BBC falsehoods, including an overview he wrote in November 2006 about what the Church has done with regard to sex-offender priests.

It is worth re-posting today:


Abuse of Minors by Priests:
An Assessment of the 'Purification' Underway


They are 'heart-rending' crimes, an increasingly severe and demanding Benedict XVI said to the bishops of Ireland.
A summary of two years of repression: what has been done, and what is left to do

by Sandro Magister


ROMA, November 20, 2006 - To the Irish bishops gathered before him at the Vatican at the end of October, Benedict XVI clearly said that this is a 'time of purification.'

It is a time of purification from the 'filth' he denounced in the memorable Via Crucis at the Colosseum on Good Friday two years ago, shortly before being elected pope, a filth made up of the many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.

Pope Joseph Ratzinger is very severe and demanding in this area, more so than his predecessor John Paul II. In the year and a half of his pontificate, he has not hesitated to use the lash even against churchmen held to be untouchable by the previous pope.

Along with the United States, Ireland is the country where the Church has created the greatest scandal. The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, 68, confirmed in an interview with Avvenire that Benedict XVI, in receiving the Irish bishops, not only denounced the horror of abuse, but dictated to them 'precise indications' on how to clean up 'with sanctions that are sometimes more rigid than the ones handed down by civil tribunals.'

In Ireland, the bishops have verified that in sixty years, from 1945 to 2004, 105 priests - almost 4 percent of the total - have been implicated in sexual abuse against minors under 18 years old, with around 400 victims. Of those still alive, 8 have been condemned to prison after a penal trial, and another 32 are undergoing civil trials. Still others have received no judicial sentence because of the impossibility of proving acts too far removed in time.

But with these, too, the hierarchy of the Church reacts today by excluding them from pastoral activity. And in any case it asks all the priests targeted by accusations to suspend all of their duties, even before investigations begin.

It can therefore happen that these sanctions temporarily punish persons who later turn out to be innocent: "But unfortunately, experience has obliged us to apply these painful but indispensable provisions," archbishop Martin affirms. The prevailing policy is that it is better to be too severe than to risk the contrary.

It's the same in the United States. There, too, it has been verified that the priests who have committed sexual abuse against minors in the past half century are around 4 percent of the total: 4,392 out of 110,000 diocesan and religious priests. Three fourths of the crimes took place between 1960 and 1984, when the customary practice was simply to transfer the guilty party from one post to another, perhaps after psychotherapy sessions that in reality didnt change anything.

This irresponsible and indulgent practice, even with the phenomenon in decline, was protracted until very recent times, when in 2002 the scandal exploded in the media and everything was discovered. The bishops of the United States reacted to their own previous weaknesses with a new 'zero tolerance' policy. A great number of cases have flooded the civil courts, and exorbitant requests for compensation have fallen upon the dioceses.

Even some bishops have been upended, not only for having covered up abuse, but for having committed it themselves. One of these, Anthony O'Connell of Palm Beach, Florida, made a revealing admission in 2002. He said that in doing these things, he felt the influence of the spirit of the 1970s, "when the Masters and Johnson report laid down the law, and a climate of sexual transgression reigned."

In some courts in the United States, it has come to the point of citing the Holy See as an accomplice in the crimes under review. The last request of this sort came last May from a tribunal in Oregon. But until now, they have all been blocked on account of the Holy See's immunity as a sovereign state.

On February 8, 2005, receiving Condoleezza Rice at the Vatican, then-secretary of state Angelo Sodano asked his counterpart from the United States to intervene in defense of the immunity of the Holy See, which had been called to court by a tribunal in Kentucky. The intervention came.

In Italy, the numbers on sexual abuse committed by priests are less startling than in the United States and Ireland. But there is an increasing severity on the part of the Church hierarchy here, too.

The general secretary of the episcopal conference, Giuseppe Betori, who in 2002 described the phenomenon as "so insignificant as not to merit specific attention," today promotes the establishment in every diocese of a Meter center, the association founded by Fr. Fortunato Di Noto to combat pedophilia.

Ratzinger as well, when he was prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, was less insistent than he is today. Offenses against the sixth commandment were the exclusive domain of his congregation, but in a number of cases, even very circumstantiated denunciations were never pursued.

Still in November of 2002, when the scandal in the United States was at its acme, Ratzinger minimized the number of guilty priests: "less than 1 percent," and he attributed the explosion of the scandal above all to "the desire to discredit the Church."

But then he changed course. It was the autumn of 2004, and Ratzinger ordered the promoter of justice at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, to retrieve from the files all the cases concerning the sixth commandment.

The order was: "Every case must take its normal course." In other words: no one could be held as untouchable anymore, not even those protected by the then extremely powerful cardinal Sodano, and not even the favorites of the reigning pope, John Paul II.

And so among the other investigations were begun, or restarted, the investigations against the two founders of religious orders with strong support in the curia: Gino Burresi, Italian, founder of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Marcial Maciel Degollado of Mexico, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, both accused of sexual abuse against their young seminarians and followers, and of extremely serious violations of the sacrament of confession.

The death John Paul II, and the following election of Ratzinger as pope, did not bring to a halt the investigations ordained by the latter. On the contrary.

In May of 2005, the first act signed by the new prefect of the congregation of the faith, William J. Levada of the United States, was precisely the condemnation of Gino Burresi, the first of the two founders of religious orders cited above. The condemnation had the approval of Benedict XVI 'in specific form,' which does not admit appeal.

The sentence on the founder of the Legionaries of Christ required more time, and had to overcome more resistance. When L'espresso, on May 20, 2005, gave a detailed report of the interrogations of dozens of accusing testimonies, the Vatican secretariat of state responded by asserting that "there is no canonical proceeding underway in regard to Fr. Maciel, nor is one foreseen for the future."

What was really at the heart of the apparent denial was that the congregation for the doctrine of the faith was sparing Maciel from a canonical process for reasons of health and age - he was 86. But the condemnation came relentlessly one year later: the revocation of all public ministry, and 'a retired life of prayer and penance.'

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:13 AM
APPEAL AGAINST AIRING OF BBC DOCUMENTARY IN ITALY
Here is the translation of the extraordinary appeal sent by 20 Catholic parliamentarians and more than 80 Italian intellectuals to RAI, Italian State TV, seeking to stop airing the BBC documentary called "Sex Crimes and the Vatican". It probably will not stop it, because RAI already paid 24,000 Euro for the rights, but at least it establishes that right-thinking people are not just standing by but are acting to oppose unprecedented and unwarranted calumny against the person of the Holy Father.



APPEAL AGAINST A SENSATION-MONGERING
AND FALSE DOCUMENTARY



We, the undersigned, having seen the BBC documentary called "Sex Crimes and the Vatican, which RAI has acquired and which could be broadcast on one of its programs, address ourselves to the directors of RAI and to the Parliamentary Watchdog Commission, not to allow this documentary to be shown on a public channel supported by Italian taxpayers.

We are not against a frank discussion of the problem of pedophilia and the tragic cases of Catholic priests guilty of committing abuses on minors, provided this is done in conjunction with ample scientific knowledge now available on this subject, with the intention of - in the words of Benedict XVI to the bishops of Ireland on October 28, 2006 - "establishing the truth about what has happened, taking all the measures necessary to avoid that these are repeated in the future, and above all, to heal the victims and all who are involved in these enormous crimes."

But we are against the projection of this specific documentary which - far from tackling the issue correctly - is a simple anti-clerical rap list against the reigning Pontiff, punctuated by blatantly false statements or based on ignorance about the most elementary principles of canon law.

For instance, the instruction Crimen of 1962 is presented as a document that intended to cover up sex abuses with a layer of secrecy for which "the penalty for breaking it is excommunication."

Leaving aside the fact that this document is concerned in its first 70 paragraphs with sexual relations with women (not girls) and addresses the issue of priestly abuses with prepubertal minors only in a reference found on Paragraph 73, what it says is exactly the opposite of what the BBC alleges:

Paragraph 16 says the victim of abuse must denounce it within a month. Paragraph 17 extends the duty to denounce it to any Catholic who has 'sure information' about such abuses. Paragraph 18 says that whoever does not make this denunciation 'risks excommunication.' The risk is for the person who fails to denounce a known abuse, not for who denounces it.

One other very serious lie in the documentary is about the letter De delictis gravioribus of 2001, signed by Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in execution of norms laid down by John Paul II a few weeks earlier regarding jurisdiction on crimes by different ecclesiastic tribunals. It is presented as a follow-up to Crimen sollecitationis which, the documentary claims, once again "stresses secrecy, under pain of excommunication."

The word 'excommunication' is not even found in that 2001 letter. If there was anything new in De delictis gravioribus regarding preceding penalties for sexual abuses, it was that it sets up a more severe discipline for sexual abuse of minors, making them prosecutable far beyond normal statues of limitation, up to when whoever claimed to have been sexually abused as a minor would have reached the age of 28.

This means, to make a concrete example, that if a four-year-old boy is a victim of abuse in 2007, he has until 2031 to press charges - which shows the intention of the Church to prosecute such crimes even several years after they are verified and far beyond normal statues of limitations.

Of course, there have been sad and tragic episodes which have involved priests guilty of pedophilia, and that sometimes, even bishops failed to sanction them as soon as a charge was verified.

But completely opposite to what the documentary claims, the energetic action of Cardinal Ratzinger, first, and then, of Benedict XVI - against whom, not accidentally, this mud-slinging attempt began right after the success of Family Day - even if it has not resolved every single case, has set standards and procedures and promoted an attitude and practice of severe discipline, rigor and courage, for which anybody who has studied this problem without ideological prejudices would credit the Pope.

Sexual offenses by priests is a real and painful problem. But it should be confronted with truth and correctness, without offering sensation-mongering and false documentaries which make up part of the problem, not their solution.

Massimo Introvigne
Director, CESNUR (Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni), Torino

Click here to see the names and designations of all the signatories.
www.cesnur.org/2007/appello.htm
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:44 AM
THE PROBLEM IN THE USA
This does not have to do directly with the recurrent charges against Cardinal Ratzinger for alleged covering-up of priest offenders, but it does give an idea of -


The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors
by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States
-
the study commissioned in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops "to provide the first-ever complete accounting, or census, of the number of priests, deacons and religious against whom allegations of child sexual abuse were made and of the incidents alleged to have occured between 1950-2002."

The study was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminology in New York City.

The report can be found on
usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

Just some general data from the report:

195 dioceses and 140 religious communities were surveyed;
7 of the dioceses and 30 of the communities did not respond to the survey.

From the responses, a total of 4,392 priests, deacons and religious were identified to have been accused of such offenses.

They represented 3-6% of priests in the dioceses and 1-3% in the communities. The overall percentage of accused in terms of all priests and religious in the US was 4%.

75% of the alleged incidents took place between 1960-1984.

A report to the police resulted in an investigation in almost all cases. 384 of the 4,392 were criminally charged. Overall 9.1% ended up being charged.

Of the 384 charged, 252 were convicted.
(Some of them had more than one conviction on different counts).

As of 2002 (before all the massive costs since then imposed by subsequent court rulings), the cost to the dioceses and communities
between 1950-2002 was estimated at about $573 million - $501 million
tor victim compensation and treatment, and the rest for priest treatment and legal fees.

Insurance paid about $289 million of the costs for victim compensation and treatment.


====================================================================


A very good and illuminating background story on
The Roots of Sexual Scandal among the Clergy
can be found in the READINGS thread(scroll down)
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=355008&p=3

It is the introduction to a book called AFTER ASCETICISM, about the results of a study published in 2006 that had been commissioned by the Catholic Medical Association of the United States to look at this issue.
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:39 AM
QUICK GUIDE TO OFTEN-CITED DOCUMENTS
Here's a quick overview of the documents that keep being referred to. This is translated from a presentation in one of the Italian newspapers today:


'Crimen sollicitationis'
from the Holy Office, 1962


This is a document from the Holy Office, approved by John XXIII in 1962 and confidentially addressed to the bishops of the Church.

It established the procedure to be followed for cases of 'solicitatio ad turpia' ('[provocations for repugnant acts") - namely, when a priest is accused of using the sacrament of confession to make sexual advances to a penitent.

Urging maximum secrecy in investigations, the instruction provides for 4 different outcomes:
1) If no basis whatsoever for an accusation is found, the accusatory documents are to be destroyed.
2) Absolution in case of vague unproven indications, but the files are to be archived in case new elements arise about the case.
3) When some sure indications are found but still insufficient to start a canonical process, an admonition must be given to the accused, and the documents must be kept against future developments. 4) If the charges appear sufficiently established, it proceeds to canonical trial.

As penalty, the document provides, in order of increasing gravity of the offense - for declaration of inability to carry out the priestly ministry, stripping of all benefits and titles as a priest, reduction to the lay state, and suspension a divinis.

The penalties, by their nature, become public knowledge the moment they are carried out, even though the canonical processes leading to it were previously conducted in secrecy.

Among the aggravating circumstances listed are: the number and the conditions of the victims, especially if of minor age or if they are consecrated or religious persons; the form of the offense, especially if united with false teaching or pretended mysticism; the turpitude of the acts committed; repeated acts; recidivism after admonition; the malice of the offender.

The crimen pessimum (worst crime] were homosexual acts, sexual acts with children of either sex, or sex with animals.


John Paul II's motu proprio,
'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela'

April 2001

"The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls - which must always be the supreme law in the Church" (Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1752).

These words start the motu proprio signed by John Paul II on April 30, 2001, and published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The papal document gives indications to "define in greater detail
1) the more serious crimes (delicta graviora) committed against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments, jurisdiction over which remains exclusively with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as
2) the special procedural norms to declare or inflict canonical sanctions" which were subsequently spelled out in the next document).


Letter from the CDF signed by Cardinal Ratzinger
regarding 'Norms for the more serious offenses
reserved to the jurisdiction of the CDF'

May 2001

Among these 'more serious offenses', alongside provocation to sin "on the occasion of or with the pretext of Confession, was "an offense against the Sixth Commandment committed by a priest against a minor less than 18 years of age."

Beyond reiterating the CDF's canonical jurisdiction for hearing such offenses, it extended the statute of limitations for pedophile acts by allowing charges to be brought up to 10 years after the complainant's 18th birthday.

===================================================================

RELATED DOCUMENTS:


'Statute for the protection
of children and youth',
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
,
June 2002 (revised May 2006)


On April 23-24, 2004, John Paul II convoked in Rome the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States on the issue of sexual abuse of minors.

The Pope used strong words: "People need to know that there is no place in priestly and religious life for those who wish to do harm on children." And he asked for concrete provisions.

On June 14, 2002, the US conference of Catholic Bishops approved a "Statute for the protection of children and youth", revised in May 2006, with more rigid norms against those who are accused of abuses, and of care and assistance to the victims. For this purposes, the appropriate commissions were to be constituted in each diocese.

Among other things, it provides that whoever is found guilty even of just one offense should be permanently removed from the ministry.


Instruction of the Congregation for Catholic Education:
'Criteria for vocational discernment
in persons with homosexual tendencies
requesting admission to seminaries
and religious orders'
, Nov 2006

Paradoxically, the same elements loudest in their denunciation of sexual offenders in the clergy were equally as vehement in protesting an instruction meant to minimize the likelihood of pedophilic offenses, which are largely homosexual.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:42 AM
QUICK GUIDE TO OFTEN-CITED DOCUMENTS
Here's a quick overview of the documents that keep being referred to. This is translated from a presentation in one of the Italian newspapers today:


'Crimen sollicitationis'
from the Holy Office, 1962


This is a document from the Holy Office, approved by John XXIII in 1962 and confidentially addressed to the bishops of the Church.

It established the procedure to be followed for cases of 'solicitatio ad turpia' ('[provocations for repugnant acts") - namely, when a priest is accused of using the sacrament of confession to make sexual advances to a penitent.

Urging maximum secrecy in investigations, the instruction provides for 4 different outcomes:
1) If no basis whatsoever for an accusation is found, the accusatory documents are to be destroyed.
2) Absolution in case of vague unproven indications, but the files are to be archived in case new elements arise about the case.
3) When some sure indications are found but still insufficient to start a canonical process, an admonition must be given to the accused, and the documents must be kept against future developments. 4) If the charges appear sufficiently established, it proceeds to canonical trial.

As penalty, the document provides, in order of increasing gravity of the offense - for declaration of inability to carry out the priestly ministry, stripping of all benefits and titles as a priest, reduction to the lay state, and suspension a divinis.

The penalties, by their nature, become public knowledge the moment they are carried out, even though the canonical processes leading to it were previously conducted in secrecy.

Among the aggravating circumstances listed are: the number and the conditions of the victims, especially if of minor age or if they are consecrated or religious persons; the form of the offense, especially if united with false teaching or pretended mysticism; the turpitude of the acts committed; repeated acts; recidivism after admonition; the malice of the offender.

The crimen pessimum (worst crime] were homosexual acts, sexual acts with children of either sex, or sex with animals.


John Paul II's motu proprio,
'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela'

April 2001

"The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance, and the keeping of the faithful, called to communion with the Lord, in their observance of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, demand that the Church itself, in her pastoral solicitude, intervene to avert dangers of violation, so as to provide for the salvation of souls - which must always be the supreme law in the Church" (Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 1752).

These words start the motu proprio signed by John Paul II on April 30, 2001, and published in the Acta Apostoloicae Sedis.

The papal document gives indications to "define in greater detail
1) the more serious crimes (delicta graviora) committed against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments, jurisdiction over which remains exclusively with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as
2) the special procedural norms to declare or inflict canonical sanctions" which were subsequently spelled out in the next document).


Letter from the CDF signed by Cardinal Ratzinger
regarding 'Norms for the more serious offenses
reserved to the jurisdiction of the CDF'

May 2001

Among these 'more serious offenses', alongside provocation to sin "on the occasion of or with the pretext of Confession, was "an offense against the Sixth Commandment committed by a priest against a minor less than 18 years of age."

Beyond reiterating the CDF's canonical jurisdiction for hearing such offenses, it extended the statute of limitations for pedophile acts by allowing charges to be brought up to 10 years after the complainant's 18th birthday.

===================================================================

RELATED DOCUMENTS:


'Statute for the protection
of children and youth',
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
,
June 2002 (revised May 2006)


On April 23-24, 2004, John Paul II convoked in Rome the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States on the issue of sexual abuse of minors.

The Pope used strong words: "People need to know that there is no place in priestly and religious life for those who wish to do harm on children." And he asked for concrete provisions.

On June 14, 2002, the US conference of Catholic Bishops approved a "Statute for the protection of children and youth", revised in May 2006, with more rigid norms against those who are accused of abuses, and of care and assistance to the victims. For this purposes, the appropriate commissions were to be constituted in each diocese.

Among other things, it provides that whoever is found guilty even of just one offense should be permanently removed from the ministry.


Instruction of the Congregation for Catholic Education:
'Criteria for vocational discernment
in persons with homosexual tendencies
requesting admission to seminaries
and religious orders'
, Nov 2006

Paradoxically, the same elements loudest in their denunciation of sexual offenders in the clergy were equally as vehement in protesting an instruction meant to minimize the likelihood of pedophilic offenses, which are largely homosexual.

TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 8:32 PM
REACTIONS IN OCTOBER 2006 WHEN THE BBC VIDEO FIRST AIRED
Before I post the reactions in the Italian media to the airing of the BBC video and the TV discussion that followed it, I thought I would post John Allen's reaction to it when it first aired in October 2006 - and some interesting sequelae. Here, from his ALL THINGS CATHOLIC column in Oct. 6, 2006 [at that time, it was still a multi-topic once-a-week column]...

BBC documentary on clergy sex abuse
from ALL THINGS CATHOLIC
October 10, 2006
By JOHN ALLEN



The BBC aired a documentary on Sunday, Oct. 1, titled "Sex Crimes in the Vatican." Made by Irish journalist Colm O'Gorman, himself the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of an Irish priest, the program traced the sorry history of denial and cover-up of clerical abuse, suggesting this pattern is not entirely in the past by exposing a contemporary case in Brazil.

I was on a BBC Radio program with O'Gorman immediately after the documentary, and he came across as a sincere journalist trying to come to terms with a terrible tragedy.

The documentary, part of the prestigious BBC "Panorama" series, nevertheless exhibits a striking callousness with regard to the facts, especially concerning a 1962 Vatican document titled Crimen Sollicitationis, an instruction from the then-Holy Office (today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) laying out procedures to be followed in cases when priests used the confessional to solicit illicit acts. Predictably, it put much emphasis on secrecy.

O'Gorman's film presented the document as a "smoking gun" proving a Vatican-ordered conspiracy to protect pedophile priests.

If that charge has an eerily familiar ring, it's because we've been down this path before. In July 2003, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, followed by the CBS Evening News, aired the same charges. In the discussion that ensued three years ago, at least three points were established about Crimen Sollicitationis:

- The document, which was supposed to be stored in each diocese's secret archives, was exceedingly obscure. Most canon lawyers and bishops had never heard of it prior to the controversy in 2003, so to suggest it played a crucial role in shaping the church's response to the crisis is an exaggeration;
- As an "instruction," the document's legal force expired in 1983 with the revision of the Code of Canon Law;
- The document was concerned only with secrecy in internal ecclesiastical procedures. There was nothing in it, nor anywhere else in church law, that would have prevented a bishop (or anyone else) from reporting a crime of sexual abuse to the local police or a prosecuting attorney. That bishops failed to do so is indicative of a widespread pattern of damage control, and the Vatican was as guilty of it as anone else, but this was a matter of culture and institutional psychology rather than formal law.

Granted, some of this may be arcane to non-experts. But the BBC documentary was not charting unexplored territory; all of this had already been placed on the record, and one might have expected to find it reflected.

[This persistent raking of dead chestnuts reinforces the belief that the anti-Church elements in Italy resurrected the issue - eight months since the documentary was first show in the UK - to deflect attention from the overwhelming success of the May 12 Family Dayin Rome, which was organized by the Catholic laity to show support for the traditional institutions of marriage and the family.]

The film also suggests that since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has juridical responsibility for charges of sex abuse against priests, Pope Benedict XVI, the former prefect of the congregation, has been an architect of the Vatican's policy of cover-up and denial.

Here again, the facts sometimes became twisted in the presentation.

First, the documentary suggests that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was responsible for "enforcing" Crimen Sollicitationis. Yet he arrived in Rome in November 1981 and the document went out of force in January 1983, so at best he could have "enforced" it for 14 months, and there's no record that he ever referred to it during that time.

Second, as far as Ratzinger personally, he was as slow to grasp the dimensions of the crisis as most Vatican officials. In November 2002, for example, he addressed the American crisis during an appearance in Murcia, Spain, appearing to blame it on anti-Catholicism in the press. [In fairness, he was there for a Christology convention, and he was asked the question at random in a news conference. The sum total of what he said about it is what Allen reports in the next paragraph. It wasn't as if he deliberately set out to address the issue.]

"There is constant news on this topic, but less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church," Ratzinger said.

A John Jay study commissioned by the U.S. bishops eventually found that 4.3 percent of diocesan priests from 1950 to 2002 faced at least one accusation of sexual abuse.

Yet there is considerable evidence that his attitude has evolved, the most convincing example coming with his decision in May to remove Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, from public ministry because of charges of sexual abuse against the 86-year-old Mexican priest, a personal favorite of John Paul II.

This, too, was absent from the BBC report.

====================================================================

Just as interesting is this unsolicited letter to Allen by one of the priests who cooperated in the BBC video. :


Fr. Tom Doyle on 'Crimen Sollicitationis'
Posted on Oct 13, 2006

NOTE: Last week, I discussed a recent BBC documentary, "Sex Crimes in the Vatican," which among other things made reference to a 1962 Vatican document called "Crimen Sollicitationis."

I made three points about the document: 1) it was extremely obscure, 2) it went out of force in 1983, and 3) it had nothing to do with the question of cooperation with police or civil authorities.

Fr. Tom Doyle, a widely noted expert on the sexual abuse crisis, [[and who apparently speaks in the documentary as a 'canon law expert' offered the following response.


By FR. TOM DOYLE

Although you state that the document was no longer in force after the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, this is not the case.

Contrary to what would have happened under ordinary circumstances, the 1962 Instruction remained in force until May, 2001, when Pope John Paul II promulgated Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

The new procedures themselves, which were the subject of the papal letter cited above, were issued on may 18, 2001 under Cardinal Ratzinger's signature. This document itself states that the 1962 instruction, Crimen Sollicitationis, was in force until 2001 (The English translation below was taken from the USCCB translation:

At approximately the same time the Congregation for the Faith, through an ad hoc Commission established, devoted itself to a diligent study of the canons on delicts, both of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, in order to determine "more grave delicts both against morals and in the celebration of the sacraments" and in order to 'make special procedural norms "to declare 'or impose canonical sanctions," because the Instruction Crimen sollicitationis, issued by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office on March 16,1962,(3) in force until now, was to be reviewed when the new canonical Codes were promulgated. [So it was 'in force' till 2001 - it still does not change the fact that few actually ever referred to it, and more importantly, that nowhere does it 'impose' secrecy on canonical investigations other than the secrecy of the confessional and the secrecy 'sub judice' that is owed anyone in canon or civil law, when a case is still being tried on the age-old legal preseumption of innocence till peroved guilty. Doyle picks out a technicality and does not meet the substantive objections to the video's misrepresentation of Crimen sollicitationis.]

Although I was a consultant to the producers of the documentary I am afraid that some of the distinctions I have made about the 1962 document have been lost.

The secrecy and cover-up was very much a part of the Catholic institutional culture and was, in fact, a policy. I have studied the files of hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases throughout the U.S., in Canada, Ireland and the British Isles....files produced by dioceses and religious orders.....and I can assure you that the common thread was an intentional cover-up enshrouded in secrecy. That is the way it was. But to admit that it was part of the culture and "the way we did it then" is no consolation to the hundreds of thousands of victims and their families who deserved a compassionate, caring response from their Church and received instead a stone wall....

[I will omit the rest of Fr. Doyle's predictable screed].

==================================================================

A reader writes Allen on April 26, 2007 -


I'm incredibly curious. Here is a link to a transcript of the program - news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5402928.stm

I find it difficult to reconcile the comment above - "I do not believe now nor have I ever believed it [Crimen Sollicitationis] to be proof of an explicit conspiracy, in the conventional sense, engineered by top Vatican officials, to cover up cases of clergy sexual abuse."
- with his (Fr. Doyle's) statement on the program: - : "But what you really have here [Crimen Sollicitationis] is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen."

Both of these statements refer to Crimen Sollicitationis and directly contradict each other. I do not think this is a matter of the producers failing to communicate any distinctions that Fr. Doyle made. I do not think that he made any distinctions at all....
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 9:52 PM
HOW MONS. FISICHELLA STOOD UP FOR THE CHURCH
Giuliano Ferrara in Il Foglio has, as usual, written a most incisive and literate commentary on the issue, but I will first translate the Corriere della Sera editorial commentary which acknowledges the unopposed partiality of the BBC video and praises the way Mons. Rino Fisichella spoke up for the Church.



In praise of Fisichella,
Monsignor Courage


'Oportet ut scandala eveniant recita' is a famous phrase from the Gospel to say that in some cases, scandals are necessary to stir up the water in a stagnant pool.

With the documentary "Sex Crimes and the Vatican", {[TV talkshow host] Michele Santoro has done that, but perhaps he did not imagine that the person who would stir it up most effectively would be the priest in the studio, Mons. Rino Fisichella.

Who was the true star of the evening: whether it was in affirming his profound sorrow for innocent victims, or in the composed firmness with which he spoke up for the Church.

It was a difficult role because, as the representative of the Holy See, he was in fact the 'lead accused.' He had to defend the position of the Vatican and answer the accusations against then Cardinal Ratzinger, who is depicted in the video as having imposed a lid of secrecy over offenses by pedophile priests.

Facing the denunciations of Colm O'Gorman [the video's producer-writer and victim of priest abuse] who was in the studio with an interpreter who screamed worse than he, facing dramatic testimony [on the 4 cases shown in the video], and a studio audience that was far from benevolent (appropriately primed by the program host), Mons. Fischella started by expressing his sorrow about the innocent victims.

He did not deny proven facts, he did not hind behind any alibis. "Whoever knows anything should denounce it, if it is true," he said simply.

Then he stepped it up, denouncing "persons who should never have become priests" because "they have discredited the great majority of honest priests, who do all they can to prove the rightness of their calling". The offending priests, he said, "have created a scandalous situation and a lack of credibility which has caused incalculable damage" to the Church.

But with equal firmness, he also denounced the video's one-sided, unopposed and false allegations about Church documents. He explained that the instruction Crimen sollicitationis of 1962 referred only to procedural secrecy which is equivalent to what a civilian judge requires when a case is still sub judice.

It is just as well that this BBC video was broadcast and seen by a large public (21% of the share in its time slot), even if it takes a definite hostile stand against the Church, often full of resentment, since O'Gorman was himself abused by a priest, and now directs an Irish association called 'One in Four' dedicated to victims of clerical abuse and 'combatting the Mafia-like secrecy of the Church of Rome.'

In Matthew (18,7), the correct translation of the Latin sentence quoted above is "It is inevitable that scandals happen", but it is followed by a terrible threat, "But woe to those by whose fault scandal happens." Whoever violates a child deserves a millstone around his neck and the bottom of the abyss.

[I looked up the entire passage, Mt 18,7-8, in the New American Bible translation. Jesus says: "Whoever causes one of these little ones ... to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!."]

Pedophilia and other sexual abuses happen - they are a shameful and horrible evil which often infests educators and other adults who are entrusted with the care of children, all over the world, whatever their orientation or confession.

The BBC video, however, seemed more like a rancorous getting even, and fortunately, it was balanced out by the presence of Mons. Fisichella.

But his task is not over. With his strong presence on TV, he also symbolically took on the Cross of standing warranty for the Church and its clergy. Now it is up to him to insure that justice for offending priests does not come as slow as it may seem to be. It falls on him to sweep away the impression of complicit silence that the Church hierarchy has been most accused of.

Corriere della sera, 2 giugno 2007
TERESA BENEDETTA
00Saturday, June 2, 2007 11:35 PM
WHAT VATICANISTAS SAY BUT WON'T WRITE IN THEIR OWN PAPER
And here's the opinion of veteran Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale [he wrote one of the first post-Conclave biographies of Joseph Ratzinger and has just written a 600+-page book on Pius XII]. The problem is he expresses these opinions in an interview with a regional newspaper in northern Italy, La Provincia di Como, instead of writing it out for his own newspaper Il Giornale.



'A video stuffed with distortions'
By Umberto Montin


"A low-level documentary, the lowest, replete with errors and confusion," says Il Giornale's Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli about the BBC video "Sex Crimes and the Vatican" broadcast Thursday night on the talk show AnnoZero on the second channel of RAI, Italian state TV.

What, in your opinion, were the weak points of this supposed investigation?More than just weak points, there are factual errors, some of them very serious, including outright distortions.

The first one, for example, is that of constantly muddling the issue, giving the impression that reporting an offense in the context of canon law [internally, within the Church] eliminates any possibility whatsoever of judicial action by a civilian court on the same offense. This shows absolute ignorance of canon law by the video makers, since canon law has no effect on whatever the state does.

Then, there's the issue of 'pontifical secrecy' - another serious distortion. Secrecy [during the investigation of charges] protects the victims as well as the accused until truth can be ascertained and charges are proven or disproved.

And they ignore that Crimen sollicitationis was a document approved by John XXIII, reprising a document from 1929, and which is then revisited in 2001. It does not prohibit reporting sexual offenses to the police or the courts, as the video claims. [It's an instruction on canonical procedures to be followed in the event of the three grave offenses covered, two of which are canonical crimes - sacramental offenses against the Eucharist and against Confession - and the third, sex crimes committed in abuse of the secrecy of the confessional].

Nor does the document threaten excommunication for those who report such offenses, rather for those who know it but keep silent or cover it up....

Then, besides the gross error of attributing a 1962 document to Ratzinger, who was only a beginning professor of theology at the time, the video makers ignore the fact that the noose tightened against pedophile priests after Ratzinger became Pope.

About the 2001 document that he signed, he in fact extended the statute of limitations for sex offenses beyond the 10 years prescribed in canon law from the time the offense took place, by counting the 10 years from the time the complainant reaches 18, when, presumably he will be more mature and aware of what he is doing, giving him as long as 10 years to take action.

Now, the video questions that the Vatican is arrogating the investigation of pedophilia charges to itself. That's not a weakness- it's a sign of strength and the will to shed light on the charges. By taking the investigation out of the jurisidction of bishops, it minimizes the possibility of local pressures and the temptation to protect 'your own'.

Of course, none of these nullifies in any way the abomination that these offenses are, and that in some cases, there has been a lack of sufficient attention to the plight of the victims.

At the same time, it must be remembered that prudence is more than necessary in these cases. Suffice it to remember the cause of the archbishop of Chicago who was pilloried only to be found innocent later.

If the faults of the video are so serious and so many, why was it shown? Was it designed to attack the Pope? [What a question! It explicitly was!]Maybe it was decided [by RAI's managing director] to revive a struggling program like Santoro's was.

In any case, it was right to show it in order to show the lack of basis for the accusations and their partisan nature.

It certainly cannot be ignored that in the United States there are lawyers' groups who are particularly active in going after the Church for damages from sexual offenses against minors. Nor that recent studies show an elevated incidence of pedophilia even among ministers in other religious denominations.

La Provincia di Como, 1° giugno 2007

=====================================================================

And here's what Corriere della Sera's Luigi Accattoli wrote on his blog right after the broadcast on Thursday night:

BRAVO FISICHELLA!

I applaud Bishop Rino Fisichella who was in Santoro's program AnnoZero last night, to deal with the BBC video on pedophile priests.

I applaud him for having been there, to begin with, besides applauding how he dealt with the issue. It took guts to do it, and he had it. As a journalist, I appreciate anyone who answers questions.

The video author Colm O'Gorman justified the onesidedness of the video by claiming that he could not get an interview with anyone in the Vatican nor anyone in the Church of Great Britain. A weak alibi, because if you believe in presenting the other side you will always find someone like Mons. Fisichella (and for this, I must acknowledge Santoro], or at the very least, speak to persons who can take up the cudgels for the church.

Though one must say that the excuse given by O'Gorman, who is a fellow journalist, is not totally invented. Any journalist who has had to work with the Church hierarchy knows that when one asks for a comment on any negative thing reported abut the Church, most will say, "Don't even bring me into it!"

Perhaps Fisichella might have conceded that the Church 'matured' its attention to the victims of priestly abuse under the pressure of public opinion.

But the important thing was his presence there last night. Because although the Church has been trying to settle accounts internally over this issue, it has not been too willing to speak about it outside the Church. Fisichella did it.

====================================================================

Perhaps in Italy, the Church has 'not been too willing' to speak about the issue outside the Church - but what about the recent flurry of items in the Italian media about the Florentine priest in his 80s who was disciplined earlier by the Archbishop of Florence for sex offenses? Or the publicity that surrounded the sanctioning by the CDF of Fr. Gino Burresi [sort of a Florentine counterpart to Fr. Maciel Macias of the Legionaries of Christ] in the first months of Ratzinger's Papacy? I think that once a case has been adjudicated, the Church has not held back on answering questions from the media.

And one can only point to the bitter lesson learned by the Church in the United States from the apparent 'cover-up' for offending sex priests in Boston - after which 'full disclosure' and 'zero tolerance' became the rule, going on 5 years now.

And when the Pope speaks to his bishops the way he did to the Irish bishops last October, he most certainly did not think no one would get to hear about it. On the contrary!

On the other hand, why has Italian media appeared to downplay, if not completely ignore, the case of the Italian missionary sentenced in Parma last week - in the midst of the full hue and cry about the BBC video - for pedophilia against his mission wards in Nicaragua? Because the lawyer for the aggrieved said openly that the Vatican helped him and the victims all the way in every way
?




TERESA BENEDETTA
00Sunday, June 3, 2007 2:29 AM
SCORECARD ON THE ANNOZERO PRESENTATION
Massimo Introvigne, scholar on the sociology of religions and director of the Center for the study of New Religions in Turin, Italy, has perhaps been the Italian layman who has most vigorously exposed the fallacies and lies of the BBC video since it became a cause celebre in Italy some three weeks ago. In this article on the CESNUR site, he gives us his scorecard of the participants in the 3-hour AnnoZero presentation Thursday night which presented the BBC video and then discussed it and related issues. Introvigne explains the scores he gives.

====================================================================


Program host Michele Santoro: 5

He starts the debate 'low key' but he is unable to really have the discussions take off. Obsessed by the ghost of Giuliano Ferrara, whom he cites at least 4 times, he shows that in one week of presumable preparation for Thursday night, he still failed to learn not to confuse procedural secrecy with covering up a crime, nor canonical procedures with civil law.

His staff did not help him. They describe the ex-priest Oliver O'Grady as 'the accused in a civil case.' [He has already been tried and convicted.] No, he was in the video as a collaborator with lawyers who are trying to strategize how to get billions in damages from the Catholic Church.

To try to show that BBC's Panorama series, of which this video was part, is a 'serious' program [it may have been in the past, but is it now?], his aides tell him that the "English" Vaticanista John Allen thought so - Allen is, of course, American, not British, and when he reviewed the video last October, he did call Panorama 'the prestigious British TV series' but pointed out that this particular video showed 'a striking callousness with regard to facts.'

Santoro gets confused about his statistics, and confused by Fr. Di Noto of METER, the nationwide association against pedophilia.

After a career of 'justicialism', Santoro ends up questioning the statute limitations. Jacobin.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella: 8

He is a bishop so Santoro lets him speak. He keeps his calm, but he's not anyone's doormat. He explains clearly the canonical meaning of the documents involving Joseph Ratzinger and the latter's actions, first as cardinal, then as Pope, to fight the scourge of pedophilia - anything but tolerating it! Santoro and his female assistant appear not to understand him, but the viewers probably did. Very effective.

Colm O'Gorman: 4

In contrast to Mons. Fisichella, he does not keep his calm, but demonstrates to perfection the caricature of a quarrelsome Irishman emerging from a pub. He contradicts himself several times - Example: first, he claims the Church has no agencies concerned with looking after the victims of pedophile priests, then admits it under questioning but claims they don't function well.

He screams a lot, and unwittingly, renders a great service to the viewer: any 'investigation' conducted by such a brute cannot possibly be sober and objective. Restless.


Fr. Fortunato Di Noto: 7

He knows enough to leave the technical questions about the video's allegations to Mons. Fisichella. When Santoro confronts him with the 'human cases' who are victims of pedophilia, he says the error is in generalizing as though this was happening only in the Catholic Church, when similar cases occur in Koranic schools or secular schools. He demonstrates that his experience in fighting pedophilia has been earned by actual deeds not by making videos. Solid.

Beatrice Borromeo (apparently a female co-host intended to lighten up the show): 5.

She had little to say, even less ideas, which were confused. As in the program preview that had been showing on the Internet, she claimed to have read the objections of those who were against broadcasting the video, but she apparently understood little or nothing, because even after one hour of discussion, she kept asking how exactly did the video err?

Marco Travaglio (apparently, another Santoro co-host meant to provide in-house humor): 4

He opens the program with a predictable tirade against Berlusconi. He tries hard all night, without success, to bring up as a discussion topic the frustrated secularism of the Piazza Navona anti-Family Day counterdemo by gays and their supporters. Predictable.


Piergiorgio Odifreddi [atheist, bitterly anti-religion mathematician who is known as Italy's Richard Dawkins]: 5

I gave him an extra point for actually limiting his intervention on an issue about which he knows nothing. So when he does speak, it's nonsense, citing wrong translations of the documents, leading Mons. Fisichella to express doubt that the professor knows Latin at all. It's not enough to have a bestselling book that likens Christians to cretins to qualify as 'a great intellectual', as Santoro described him. Inconsistent.

Bruno Vespa (host of RAI-1's PORTA A PORTA, which at the same time as AnnoZero had Cardinal Bertone as a guest): 9

He beats Santoro for the evening, stealing the scene with Cardinal Bertone speaking about the 'third secret' of Fatima, in a program that shows what a serious program on religion can be. Santoro did not expect competition at all for the night, but never under-estimate those ex Christian Democrats. Foxy!


Joseph Goebbels: 0 for ideas, 9 for propaganda technique

From 1933-1937 he unleashed the worst propaganda campaign against the Catholic Church on the subject of pedophile priests, accusing more than 7,000 in that period, but getting only 170 convictions, mostly ex-priests who committed offenses after they had left the Church, or for homosexuality, which was punishable under laws that had nothing to do with pedophilia, as well as quite a few innocents who were sent to Dachau.

Nazi newsreels showed children who had been scourged and groaning in chains - staged, we now know - as in a film by Murnau. At the end, they would show Pius XI, who had condemned Nazism, accused here of protecting pedophile priests. So, the BBC has done nothing new!

But Goebbels's documentaries had a sinister and evil effectiveness that an O'Gorman cannot hope for, thankfully. O'Gorman is no Nazi, just a Class-B filmmaker. Dangerous, yes, but the Church which has survived Goebbels, will also survive Santoro and AnnoZero.


=====================================================================

10/06/2007 15:07
TERESA BENEDETTA
Post: 7870

BENEDICT XVI 'MORE SEVERE'
AGAINST SEX OFFENSES BY PRIESTS


Here is a translation of an item in PETRUS today -


Book presents research study
about sex offenses by priests

by Bruno Volpe


VATICAN CITY, June 10 - The Church under Pope Benedict XVI is more severe with priests who commit sex offenses and has done well to limit the access of homosexuals to the priesthood because the majority of those who commit pedophilia have homosexual tendencies.

That summarizes the analysis by sociologist-author Massimo Introvigne in a book he is presenting in Turin tomorrow, June 11. Introvigne is the director of CESNUR, the Turin-based Center for the Study of New Religions, and was probably the most active Catholic layman who was engaged in publicly answering the false allegations of the BBC film.

The book presents research into issues revived recently by the showing of the BBC video "Sex Crimes and the Vatican" on Italian TV and the public discussions preceding the broadcast and immediately following it.

"Is this an instant book?" Introvigne commented. "Only in reference to that broadcast [and its discussion on Annozero, a talk show hosted by leftist Michele Santoro] which prodded us to come out with it sooner. I have spent the past 10 years researching sex offenses imputed to priests in the United States and other countries."

Some of the data, little known in Italy, comes from a survey commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, which shows that between 1950-2002, 4,392 priests were accused of sexual abuses on minors, among whom 105 have been convicted. 78.2% of the accusations were reportedly committed against minors above the age of puberty, and therefore, not strictly cases of pedophilia.

If that is taken into account, Introvigne said, it averages out to little more than one case a year, which is one too much, "but whatever Santoro and others say, the church under Benedict XVI has become more, not less, severe against priests committing sexual offenses, and the figures loosely cited on TV are largely fantasies."

Introvigne says the research also shows that 81% of the priests accused of pedophilia have homosexual tendencies.

"If it would be totally wrong to say that all homosexual priests are pedophilic," he said, "it is still an unhappy fact, but statistically determined, that the majority of pedophile priests have homosexual tendencies, which shows that the norms introduced by Benedict XVI to limit the access of homosexuals to the priesthood is not an expression of homophobia but a real contribution to minimizing this sad problem."

At the book presentation, Introvigne will debate Giovanni Cantoni, editor of the magazine called Cristianita (Christianity).



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