The Observer has published an article detailing a confidential Vatican document from the 1960s that instructed Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or face discipline — including expulsion from the church. The document in Latin bears the seal of Pope John XXIII. It reads like a Vatican-version of Omertà.
The document reportedly tells Bishops to make such cases secret and to have victims take an oath of secrecy when they make a complaint against priests. The document entitled “Crimine solicitationies” (or “instruction on proceeding in cases of solicitation”) states that it is to be “stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.”
The document was uncovered by Texas lawyer Daniel Shea who has asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into a conspiracy. It is certainly a remarkable find. If a corporation gave such instructions on handing alleged crime, there certainly would be an investigation. I am not sure why there should be a different standard for a religious organization. The important thing to remember is that these are not personal liability cases but criminal acts. The Church was telling bishops to secure oaths of secrecy from victims of crime. It also shows that these cases (and the Church’s effort to conceal them) go back decades.
The discovery follows recent resignations in the wake of abuse investigations in the Church in Ireland, here.
For the full story, click here.