You may have heard about an uproar in Italy over a BBC documentary to be aired on TV about sex abuse in the Church. This is the same documentary aired last year that claimed to have a smoking gun evidence of a Vatican-organized cover-up abuse.
Unfortunately for the BBC, this “smoking gun” is old news. The document came out in 2001, we wrote about it at Catholic World News in 2002 and it’s even mentioned on the Vatican web site.
It’s not much of a secret document if it’s right there on the web and everybody knows about it. The original document was originally published in 1962 and discussed the canonical crime of solicitation. I wrote several blog entries about it in 2003 when some American lawyers wanted to use it in lawsuits against the Church. The relevant entries are here, here, here, and here.
From the CWN story:
Crimen Sollicitationis covers canonical discipline for priests accused of the sexual misconduct— including, but not limited to, the sexual abuse of minors. In 2001, Pope John Paul II (bio - news) gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the exclusive jurisdiction for handling these disciplinary matters. Because the document emphasizes the confidentiality of canonical trials, the BBC report suggested that the Vatican policy, and its enforcement by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, was an effort to conceal evidence of abuse. Avvenire, in its editorial attack on the program, pointed out the distinction between canonical and civil trials, and noted that the Vatican document did not require victims of abuse to remain silent. In fact paragraph 15 of the document “obliged anyone knowledgeable of sexual abuse committed in the confessional to tell authorities or they would be excommunicated.”
The whole point of this slanted media was originally to try to connect Pope Benedict to the cover up of sexual abuse by priests when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Now with the Church in the news in Italy over efforts by homosexual activists to push through a gay-pseudo-marriage bill opposed by the Church, the same error-filled, sensationalistic program is being used as a cudgel against the Church again.
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