The BBC Joins the War Against the Pope

Winston Churchill:  “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

From the London Evening Standard, which apparently does not subscribe to any journalistic standards:

The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.

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.

All of this is completely false – the BBC documentary in question is blatantly wrong, and can only be seen as yet another hysterical hit piece against the Pope.

And the documentary to be shown by the BBC is not new; it was shown in 2006 as well. It was complete wrong then and it is completely wrong now. 

Crimens Sollicitationis

Just to show how completely ridiculous all of this is getting,  listen to this from the London Evening Standard article:

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.

That 1962 document was issued under the auspices of Pope John XXIII – the liberals most beloved Pope. Are they accusing him of trying to cover up the sexual abuse of children? The document DID NOT lay out the Vatican’s “strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal”.

All of this is the most pathetic lying. The reporters who have written this article apparently have not taken the time to read the documents in question. Or, they are knowingly misleading the public.

What was Crimens Sollicitationis? It was an attempt to deal with a very touchy matter – the abuse of the confessional by priests who performed lewd acts. Now, everyone knows that what you say in the confessional is completely secret.  If a priest discloses what is said to him in the confessional, he is automatically excommunicated.

But what should the church do when someone alleges that a priest used the confessional to solicit, to perform, or to set up a lewd act? The church ordinarily would hold a trial to determine exactly what happened and what the punishment should be. But you can’t have a trial and then ask the accuser what was said in the confessional. It simply cannot be done. The confessional is sacrosanct. The situation is a classic catch 22. So the church developed this document – in 1962- to determine the procedures for keeping the testimony of the person who confessed secret.  And so, the document set up procedures for keeping the confidentiality of the confessional sacred, while still being able to get the abuser. All without disclosing what was said in the confessional.

The whole purpose was to strip away the excuse of the abuser that “it all took place in the confessional” and therefore no one can prosecute him.

But the BBC has twisted this into “this was the secret document to keep child abuse secret”

Now – they know they are wrong. Multiple people have pointed this out to them, over and over again. Yet, they still pursue this deeply cynical line of attack.

The Standard article makes much of what one priest – Father Thomas Doyle – has said about the meaning of the document. But:

Interviewed for a television programme in 2006, canon lawyer Thomas Doyle described the tight secrecy demanded for the procedure as “an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen”. However, in the study of the instruction that he revised less than two years later he stated: “According to the document, accusers and witnesses are bound by the secrecy obligation during and after the process but certainly not prior to the initiation of the process. There is no basis to assume that the Holy See envisioned this process to be a substitute for any secular legal process, criminal or civil. It is also incorrect to assume, as some have unfortunately done, that these two Vatican documents are proof of a conspiracy to hide sexually abusive priests or to prevent the disclosure of sexual crimes committed by clerics to secular authorities.

John L. Allen, Jr. has said the secrecy was aimed rather at the protection of all involved, the accused, the victim/denouncer and the witnesses, before the verdict was passed, and for free finding of facts.

Did the document keep priests from reporting abuse cases? Not at all; quite the contrary:

In any case, Crimen Sollicitationis did not threaten excommunication of people who revealed “rape and torture” of children by priests. On the contrary: it imposed not only a duty to denounce such crimes (and the lesser offence of solicitation) to the bishop, but the automatic excommunication of anyone who knowingly failed to do so. The goal was to ensure that clerical misconduct which, by its nature, was likely to occur in private, did not remain secret and unpunished.

The 2001 Letter from Ratzinger.

Let’s look at the central allegations of this article, again:

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.

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.

Secret Vatican edict? It has been freely available, in English, since 2001 to all who asked for it. It was sent out to all the Bishops, which hardly makes it a secret document.  In fact, the Austin diocese appears to have posted it on their website in 2002. Catholic media reported extensively on the existence of the document in 2001, after it was issued.  And in 2005, they put it up on their website. Yet, the media kept telling people they had discovered a “secret” document:

Catholic media disclosed and discussed the document in January, 2001.10 In July, 2003, newspapers in Massachusetts published stories about the document Mr. Hitchens quotes.11  CBS News tried to take credit for the news the following month.12 The Observer, cited by Mr. Hitchens, purported to break the story in 2005,13 while the BBC ‘exposed’ the instruction in 2006.14 A CBS feature ‘discovered’ it in late 2009.15

Did it instruct churchmen to “put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety?” That statement is a blatant falsehood.

The reason for the letter was this: There was confusion about what could happen under Canon Law. Some said the Vatican could directly intervene in child abuse cases, to start ecclesiastical prosecutions where the local bishop did not do so. Some said, no, the Vatican had to let the local bishop deal with the matter first, no matter how long it took. They said the Vatican could NOT get involved, according to church law.

But Ratzinger said in his letter – forget about it. These are serious matters and the church will get involved if the local bishop was not moving fast enough. And that was the real problem. Some  bishops appeared very reluctant to go after the abusers. Some, like Weakland, actively called the victims names like “squealers” and threatened legal action if people did anything. So, there was great need for the Vatican to get directly involved in these matters, and to be able to do so quickly, without waiting for the local bishop.

There are statutes of limitations in all laws – secular and canonical. Only a very few crimes are exempt from a statute of limitations, for example murder. All others become un-prosecutable after a period of years. Here, there was a church “statute of limitations” that might frustrate attempts to get the abusers. Ratzinger INCREASED the statute of limitations, to make it easier to get the abusers.

 . .in extending jurisdiction over these cases to 10 years past the alleged victim’s 18th birthday, CDF actually increased the amount of time that Church officials (whether diocesan or Roman) had to prosecute these offenses. Before CDF’s letter, canonical prosecutions were complicated by unduly short statutes of limitations—the very same problem, by the way, that state prosecutions encountered in many pedophilia cases. CDF was hardly obstructing justice; it was trying to make justice more available.

As for this: “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.” Again, completely wrong, wrong, wrong.

The document had to do with the internal code of canon law by which the Vatican conducts its business. It said absolutely nothing about whether people should go to legal authorities. What it did say is this:

“Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret”

That’s it. That’s the whole sentence. Does that look anything like what the Standard alleged? No. The “Pontifical secret” is the same thing virtually every administrative body in the world works under. It means that people are “encouraged” not to talk about any of the matters under consideration, in fairness to everyone involved. How many times have you seen a prosecutor say something like “the matter is under adjudication, so we cannot comment on it”. That is “under Pontifical secret”, if you will. How many times have you heard someone in a government agency say the exact same thing, because an investigation of some kind is going on?

Nowhere at all does it say anything remotely like what the Standard said. In fact:

The charter for the Protection of Children and Young People of June, 2002, approved by the Vatican, requires that credible allegations of sexual abuse of children be reported to legal authorities.”

These are creepy people, using creepy tactics to get at the Pope.

They are blatantly lying about virtually every aspect of this matter. The BBC should be ashamed of themselves. But I highly doubt they will be.

There is much to legitimately criticize about the church and how it has handled these cases. But this latest witch hunt is unprecedented in its determined use of falsehoods to go after certain people.

Remember this: Ratzinger/Benedict has been far and away the most effective person at stamping out child and teenager abuse in the church. He often talked about eliminating the ‘filth in the church” In fact, the number of children beingn abused has been dropping ever since a more conservative Pope – John Paul II, took over. And under Benedict, the trend stays the same .:

Yet the media pretends that the horror is still going on, at the same rate.
Why are they going after him, and why are they lying so blatantly to do it?  

You figure it out. When liberals were in ascendance in the church, even though child abuse was at its horrific height, the media said nothing.

Now that conservatives have grown in influence in the church, the media is hell bent for leather to go after them.

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