President of Poland
If there is any truth to these charges, it will be a serious blow to the credibility of Pope Benedict. Liberal Catholics are already wary of him for a long list of reasons. Conservative Catholics who are hoping for good things from this papacy will become more wary because few of them will be able to find rationalizations sufficient to justify threatening sexual abuse victims with excommunication if they talk.
The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated. ...
Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.
Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.
Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."
Source: This is London
The report also quotes Father Tom Doyle, a former Vatican lawyer who was reportedly dismissed for criticizing the church for its handling of child abuse allegations:
"What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen. When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world."
If the allegations can be substantiated to any reasonable degree, the political and legal fallout could be quite serious — and should be quite serious, too. Officials in the Catholic church who deliberately, consciously pushed policies which placed the political interests of churches ahead of the moral and legal interests of victims of sexual abuse deserve to be punished. The church shouldn't be the one to punish them because the church has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with such responsibility. Civil authorities will have to be given this task and no one in the church should hide behind any traditional religious privileges — not if they have a moral bone in their bodies.