Omertà: Vatican Ordered Secrecy in Abuse Cases

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.

14 thoughts on “Omertà: Vatican Ordered Secrecy in Abuse Cases”

  1. This is only ‘timely’ in the sense that people keep trying to connect the Holy Office (which became the CDF after Vatican II) to the coverup by Bishops.

    Here’s the issue people miss: the Church has an entire legal process that predates most countries by something like 800 years. In fact – most of your legal procedures were taken from the Church. Rights of the accused existed in Canon law far before secular law conceived them, under the species of ‘protecting the accused from scandal’ – at a time when in a small community, scandal meant ostracisation and possibly death for the outsider.

    Unlike civil or criminal law, which is to promote the common weal, the purpose of Canon law is to further the efficacious salvation of souls, and is rooted in the truth of the gospel and the Church’s mission of “higher” justice (which is supposed to cooperate with ‘lower’ justice, but that bit failed seriously, for reasons I’ll explain below).

    The highest canonical punishments for these types of crimes include dismissal from the clerical state, which was made de rigeour for the worst cases. There were also various lesser punishments, like loss of certain faculties, etc, but those were usually applied to priests who sinned due to weakness (falling in love and having an affair with a woman, for instance – it happened).

    The secrecy of these proceedings was intended to protect the rights of the accused and victims alike, and is proportional, since the end goal here is the salvation of souls – the victim and the accused and those people around them. Priests found guilty of the worst crimes, however, were supposed to have been sentenced via the Holy Office. Usually, the reports didn’t make it up that high, and here’s why:

    What actually happened was that Bishops were calling in psychologists to evaluate the offenders, and the shrinks told the Bishops these guys could be rehabilitated. They were informed that most of them weren’t ‘pedophiles’ but merely ‘ephebophiles’ – chicken-hawks to use the vernacular, and since psychologists affirmed that being gay was cool, they asserted this was a very minor deviation from that – it might not even be a paraphelia – and could be controlled with counseling. No reason to ruin a career over it, was how these practitioners came to see it, I surmise. So, these people were transferred around, many working in non-pastoral situations (or under quietly controlled conditions, like they might use for an alcoholic priest) for a long time, until they seemed to be ‘safe’ – rehabilitated. But they were never rehabilitated, just dormant.

    The flaw in Church law since the fall of the Papal States is that there was no longer secular consideration in the judicial proceedings of the Church, which means the punishments were toothless. You couldn’t separate the convict from the Church community while still supporting the individual: there are no “ecclesiastical prisons”, there were no provision for mandatory retirement to a monastery, etc. The Holy Office was de-fanged of power it rightly should have had, and the result, for 50ish years, lead to the scandal.

    It’s sad and screwed up, but since it doesn’t fit the modern trope about what the pedophile scandal was about (the tenets of traditional Catholicism lead to crazy evil: specifically, that priestly celibacy made guys turn pedophiles and the Church just cares about money), the truth is entirely ignored.

  2. Sorry Vince, but I do know and I will give you a precise date.
    First, the absolute worst teacher I ever had was a Jew who joined the Catholic Church to get a job teaching there. She was forever full of praises about how the Catholics saved the Jews in WWII.
    She was as hateful and conniving as any person I’ve ever met. So much so that I refused to attend a Catholic High School. The Public School in that same town was rabidly anti-Catholic.
    At Phu Bai Vietnam on Weds, Feb 15, 1968 I took a CLEP test for OCS, I had extended my tour and had returned to Vietnam the previous month after a 30 day leave. The test was administered at the Phu Bai Air terminal and I had to walk over two miles to return to my Squadron Headquarters after I finished with it.
    As I started across the flight line I was hailed by a Pilot with whom I had served as a crewmember (aerial gunner) and who had been assisting me with my efforts to get into OCS and flight school, so had two of my Commanding Officers.
    He was Methodist and a terrific man and a great officer. He was visiting with two other officers – one of them obviously a Catholic Chaplain. The first thing he asked was how my recent leave to the states had been. I replied honestly, that I wished I’d have stayed in Vietnam; I hadn’t been aware of the magnitude of anti-war, anti-military activity. I mentioned that “I had even been insulted by the town whore as I was leaving the Church after attending Midnight Mass with my Mother and that “everyone had laughed”. My friend the Captain expressed his regrets at the incident and left. As I turned to leave the Chaplain quickly chastised me for ‘never having attended any Catholic Services at Phu Bai’. I replied that he wouldn’t either; then asked: “What kind of Catholic School did you go to?” To my surprise he laughed and told me that he had been raised Jewish.
    Suddenly the other officer, a First Lieutenant spoke for the first time and only addressed the Chaplain – he was completely indifferent to me – He said (obviously alluding to the support my friend, the Marine Helicopter Pilot [Captain- Methodist] was extending to me to get into OCS), “That’s one thing I would never do – support a Catholic … my people have some deep memories”
    As he went on I discovered he was alluding to the Inquisition – not World War II. By now it was obvious that they were very good friends – Holy Moses never said another word to me and neither seemed to care one bit about my feelings.
    Without a word to either I left and returned to my unit. That was February 15, 1968 – I would not see my medical records from the Marine Corps again until thirty one years later. They remained “Lost” and it was one of the reasons I decided to separate when I returned from Vietnam.
    That First Lieutenant was the Flight Line Officer at Phu Bai, Marine Corps Base, in February of 1968.
    After discussing this incident with other Marines at the time, both Catholic and Protestant, we quickly discovered that the “Catholic” Chaplain at Phu Bai who had been raised Jewish had a lot of friends in I Corps who had done the same thing.
    Oh, btw: Growing up, I had teachers who would cut out columns written by Ann Landers and Dear Abby that had letters written to them allegedly by Catholics who had committed infractions or readers that had allegedly been “victimized” by Catholics.
    They would pin them to the cork board over the sand boxes and call all the childrens attention to them – some of those kids were only first graders – to let everyone know what kind of people “Catholics” were.
    It is very very interesting that never once was any letter or grievance alleged by a member of any other religious persuasion.
    Another thing, Vince, in California in 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1968 the first and only thing women would ask young white males was “Are you a Catholic?” {= Reverse Discrimination … ;)]
    Some of us have very good memories. Interestingly, those who went to Catholic Chaplains to reveal this or to complain about it were told to either “stay on base” or “go to another club”.
    Another interesting development in our Armed Forces is that (especially in the all-volunteer military – which has a very high rate of suicides) once a service man or woman goes to see the Chaplain – the very next scheduled visit is to a Psychiatrist; it is standard operating procedure.

  3. Sorry, JRex, but your post is incoherent nonsense.

    You do not even know the meaning of “Marrano,” and note the spelling. Marranos were Sephardic Jews in Inquisition Spain who were FORCED to become Catholics, but honestly remained faithful to their own faith. They were the victims of brutal persecution by the Inquisition. Are you totally ignorant of the history of this anti-Semitism?

    Where did you get this nonsense about Catholic Chaplins in Vietnam? What is the source? None.

  4. I’m Roman Catholic and have been in 45 of the 50 states and fifteen foreign countries. During all of my travels, I was never once asked if I was a: Communist, Jew, a member of any Protestant Religious Organization, a thief, a convicted felon, a homosexual, and I can go on and on. I am none of the above. However, what I have been asked in at least 25 of the 45 states that I’ve worked or traveled in, usually by members of the opposite sex was : Are you a Catholic? The affirmative response meant the immediate end of any further relationship.
    In other words that was Applied Psychology, i. e. “Reverse Discrimination” for the alleged sins against a particular pressure group that were alleged to have transpired since the Crucifixion of Christ.[btw: for non believers, Christ is not considered the Son of God but “the illegitimate son of a Roman Soldier named “Panther”].
    That Said: John XXIII is an interesting character. He was Pope from 1958~1963 and called the Second Vatican Council; which has virtually gutted the Traditional Catholic Church. He was (interestingly) inspired by “Father Malone” a nebulous proselyte who had been raised Jewish until the age of 23 then caught the ear of the Pope within three years, possibly less. In 1960, while John XXIII was Pope, there were about 25 high ranking Catholic Prelates, all conservatives who met violent or suspicious deaths – none have ever been investigated. I do not recall any support from Rome regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov 22, 1963. It definitely was a conspiracy and no, I do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald had anything to do with it. I do not recall any support from Rome for John Kennedy during his administration and he was constantly heckled in the media for being a Catholic even covertly by Dear Abby and Ann Landers [gossip columnists].
    Pope John XXIII has been called “The Masonic Pope” because of several reasons, one of which was that in 1963 the Vatican Coins were truck with the image of “Juno” the Patroness of the Masons.
    This is very noteworthy because if a Catholic joins the Masonic Lodge, he loses the last rites of the Church.
    In the northern part of the United States during the 1950s and 60s many Masons would gloat publicly that “Their daughters would never dance with [or date] a Catholic”. That was only if the Catholic was White.
    In Vietnam in 1967~68, every so called “Catholic” Chaplin in I Corps [the area between Danang and the DMZ] was a Merrano – Jew, i. e. they were raised “Jewish” then proselyted into the Catholic Church as Military Chaplins . Why is this significant? Because many sons of Orthodox Traditional Catholic families could not even get accepted into the seminary for Priesthood.
    More than that, any Marine stationed in California during 1965~1968 can vouch for the fact that females would have nothing to do with you if you were a Catholic (that is – only if you were White); viz: “Reverse Discrimination”.
    White males were leaving or staying away from the Church in droves because women would not have anything to do with you if you were a Catholic.
    [BTW: “Non-Violence actually means ‘manipulate or control the women'”]
    Granted; there is much about the Contemporary Catholic Church to find fault with. A close observer [especially a Catholic] realizes that that Catholic Church has been infiltrated and subverted. This is immediately realized when the current Pope says nothing about the horrific and murderous recent invasion of Gaza.
    The Catholic Church did not take Palestine off it’s map until the Reagon Adminsitration. It acts in direct oppostion to it’s truest sons and daughters.
    A close study of John XXIII makes him seem to be a con man.
    The Masonic Lodge is the secular front for Zionism – their dates are exactly the same and the entire world is waking up to this realization.
    John XXIII gave impetus to this movement; his council has been counter productive to Traditional Catholics; in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota in 2006, anti Catholicism was so widespread that members of the United States Armed Forces who were Catholic and assigned duties in any of those four states could have their assignments changed; I’m sure this had not changed.
    I wonder how many Catholics are being killed and injured in these illegal and immoral wars of Iraq and Afghanistan and exactly what for?
    That said, my heart goes out to all victims, civilian and military, whatever their religious persuasion who are being victimized by these totally unnecessary, illegal, immoral, and counter productive conflicts that I as a Catholic challenge and demand the current spiritual leader of the Catholic Church: the Pope; to oppose.

  5. Mespo,
    Why should we expect that a priest would not back up the Vatican? The language is pretty clear to this old Catholic.

  6. From the article:

    “Rev Thomas Doyle, a US Air Force chaplain in Germany and a specialist in Church law, has studied the document. He told The Observer: ‘It is certainly an indication of the pathological obsession with secrecy in the Catholic Church, but in itself it is not a smoking gun.'”


    This from the gang who couldn’t shoot straight.

  7. While I’m shocked at the document itself (as I hadn’t seen it), the article appears to be from 2003. Isn’t this an old story?

  8. The document was uncovered by Texas lawyer Daniel Shea, Score one for a Texan.

    This was in 1962 and a 69 page document?

    I guess it should be titled 4 Score and how to date an 8. I am going to leave the 69 pages alone.

    The document focused “on sexual abuse initiated as part of the confessional relationship between a priest and a member of his congregation.”

    I guess they know what intellectual dishonesty is all about.

  9. Hmmmm. I love the smell of RICO violations in the morning. Smells like fresh baked cookies.

    Gangsters have always had an interesting fashion sense. I must say you fellows have taken that ball and run with it. Jesus would be pleased not just with the nature of the crimes covered up by you in His name but the cover-up as well. Or do you conspiratorial clowns in Vatican City really think He (the Big Cheese) is going to give you the nod and a wink with a hearty “Heck of a job, Brownie!” I submit that St. Peter is more likely to be waiting at the Pearly Gates like a very angry bouncer. Come by and see me when you get to Hell. I’ll be at Hunter Thompson’s table. We’ll have coffee and Hunter can teach you the definition of words like “hypocrite”.

    You guys should really read your own book sometime. This of course assumes you actually believe your own message propagated in your “day job”. The Gangsters of Love. It’d be adorable if it wasn’t so tragic.

  10. When I was a kid in elementary school in 1968-69 I had many Catholic friends and they used to joke about Priests and Alter boys, this is not news just proof of how long the abuse has been going on.

  11. Surprise, Surprise. The Vatican was purposely hiding the fact that they were violating the law, repeatedly! Who would have guessed. This document should lead to people going to jail if they are still alive and it should lead to even more civil suits against the Church. Now, is lying to the authorities and abusing children a venial sin or a mortal sin??

  12. If there was a God he would strike them down for their sins and abuses. Fortunately for them there is not. We have only the law to hold them accountable.

  13. Great to see these retards tackle their issues with the mindset of a 12yr old.

    When will JT sue all the religions for crimes against humanity… Speaking of God to anyone should be equated with denying the holocaust.

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