The BCC and London’s Evening Standardthink they have a real scoop showing that Cardinal Ratzinger participated in an attempt to cover-up the US bishops’ cover-up of sex abuse... except it didn’t happen. Ed Peters notes that what the Brits think is a smoking gun is old news. The “secret document” came out in 2001 and when I was at Catholic World News, we wrote about it in 2002. Heck, it was even published on the Vatican web site!
You’d think they would do a better job at keeping a secret. Meanwhile the document doesn’t even do what the BBC thinks it does. Here’s the CWN description of the motu proprio:
The motu proprio has the effect of changing certain aspects of Canon Law, giving new authority to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That Congregation is authorized to respond to cases in which priests commit any of certain specific offenses. The offenses listed—eight in number—concern the Eucharist, the sacrament of Penance, and immoral behavior.
The listed offenses against the Eucharist include disrespectful treatment of the sacred species, “concelebrating” with an individual who is not an ordained Catholic priest, or celebrating Mass for sacrilegious purposes. Offenses against Penance include using the sacrament as a pretext for soliciting sexual partners, and violating the seal of confession. Another category of “grave offenses” is “sin against the 6th Commandment committed with a minor of less than 18 years.”
When these offenses are reported, Cardinal Ratzinger informs the world’s bishops and religious superiors that they should conduct an investigation of the charges, and also notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The disciplinary response is reserved to that Vatican body. The Vatican will maintain records of all such disciplinary cases for 10 years, except in pedophilia cases, for which the files will remain open for 18 years.
Sorry BBC and Evening Standard, but you’ll have to keep looking in vain for your smoking gun with which to bring down Pope Benedict (whose name is Joseph, not Thomas, by the way. Such silly mistakes don’t do much for your credibility.)
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