Abuse letter misunderstood: Vatican

2011-01-19 21:03
Vatican City - The Vatican launched a new round of damage control on Wednesday about priestly sex abuse, saying a letter it sent to Irish bishops on Rome's concerns about their reporting abuse to police had been "deeply misunderstood".

The Vatican spokesperson, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, said with the 1997 letter the Vatican merely wanted to ensure that Irish bishops follow church law precisely so that paedophile priests would not have any technical grounds to escape church punishment.

It by no means instructed bishops to disregard civil reporting requirements about abuse, added the Vatican's US lawyer, Jeffrey Lena.

At the time, there were no such reporting requirements in Ireland. In fact, the Irish bishops were ahead of Irish lawmakers in co-operating with law enforcement as dioceses were hit with the first wave of lawsuits by victims of abusive priests.

Lombardi and Lena issued statements after The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the letter from the Holy See's top diplomat in Ireland had told Irish bishops that their mandatory reporting policy "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature".

The bishops' 1996 policy makes clear, with dozens of citations, that canon law must be followed, raising questions about what - beyond the police reporting requirement - the Vatican was so concerned about.

Routine defence


As a result, the letter has undermined persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in US lawsuits, that Rome never suggested that local bishops not co-operate with police.

The letter cited the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, which had reviewed the Irish document.

At the time, the Congregation for Clergy was headed by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has routinely defended the church's practice of not reporting abuse to police. At the height of the Vatican's sex abuse scandal last year, Castrillon Hoyos told a Colombian radio station that no one should be forced to report abuse.

"The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect," Castrillon told RCN radio. "Why would they ask that of the church? That's the injustice."

Lombardi in his statement noted that the letter from the Vatican's nuncio, Archbishop Luciano Storero, was issued before the Vatican in May 2001 instructed all bishops around the world to send abuse cases to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for review.

The Vatican has insisted that 2001 shift marked a turning point in the way it dealt with abuse. The 2001 norms, however, say nothing about the need to report abuse to police.

Nonbinding, unofficial guide

And later that year, in September 2001, Castrillon Hoyos congratulated a French bishop in a letter for receiving a suspended prison sentence for having concealed knowledge of a priest who was convicted of raping and sexually abusing minors.

Only last year did the Vatican post a non-binding, unofficial guide on its website saying bishops should follow civil reporting laws where they exist.

The Vatican's concern about mandatory reporting of abuse stems in part from its concern that information gleaned during the sacrament of confession remain confidential.

In addition, the Vatican has its own norms for dealing with abuse involving the confessional that require the church proceedings be kept strictly secret.

Victims' lawyers have said such secrecy amounted to a policy to cover up abuse and mandated non-reporting to civil authorities. Lena has insisted in court papers that the norms do no such thing.


- AP
Read more on:    vatican city  |  child abuse  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.