The British "newspaper" The Observer tells us the following:
Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry
Confidential letter reveals Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep allegations secret
Jamie ("I'm too unqualified to hold my job") Doward, religious affairs correspondent
Sunday April 24, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI faced irresponsible know-nothing claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. The order was made in a
confidentialpublicly available letter, obtained in a death-defying feat of investigative journalism by The Observer by downloading it from the Vatican's web site where it has been available for years [HERE, YOU MORONS], which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001 before the U.S. sex scandal even broke out.
It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors (gasp! next they'll be wanting grand juries to do that!) and keep the evidence confidential
for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthoodwhereas what we all know they should do is put the inquiries on CourtTV and hold regular press conferences and put all the humiliating charges and counter-charges out in public so we can sell more newspapers and have a media feeding frenzy and ruin the reputations of all involved by humiliating both innocent victims and priests who have been falsely accused. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week. (Dum! Dum! Dum!)
Please pay no attention to the fact that the document was part of the implementation effort for a set of norms that Pope John Paul II himself had just enacted nineteen days earlier in a letter [HERE/TRANSLATION WITH NORMS APPENDED], so Ratzinger was just doing what his boss told him to do. That shouldn't get in the way of a good smear on the new pope.
Ambulance-chasing Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim without any foundation it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'. Yes! By saying that the Church's own internal investigation is to be secret, that totally prevents victims from contacting the police and reporting what happened to them. It stops them from obtaining their own civil legal representation. And it stops them from holding press conferences and explaining what happened. You can't have both a closed-door internal Church investigation and a civil investigation at the same time. Everybody knows that!
The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office <irrelevant historical smear>that once presided over the Inquisition</irrelevant historical smear> and was overseen by Ratzinger.
It spells out to bishops
the church's position on a number of matterswhich canonical crimes fall under the CDF's jurisdiction, ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ha! Fooled you, didn't we! You thought this document was about the sex abuse scandal (which hadn't yet broken out in the U.S.) and how to cover it up, when really it was simply a clarification of which crimes the CDF has jurisdiction over! Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric' and thus prevent the state from doing diddly about them--Not! It says that the CDF has jurisdiction over these cases as far as church law is concerned, saying nothing about what civil courts may do.
The letter states that the
church's jurisdictiontime that the CDF has to hear the case before its competence expires 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years. Which says nothing about how long the secrecy lasts, despite what we said in the second paragraph, and which is actually an increase in the amount of time that one normally has to file a complaint, which is normally only three years [SEE CANON 1362 §1].
It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office (Yes! He really said that! "Send them to my office! Don't send them to anybody else. Send them to me only. Only I am to see them. Me. Me. Me."), which has the option if it feels like taking the afternoon off of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'--it being, of course, a bad idea to let priests be judged by "a jury of their peers."
'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time
while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operatingcarries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.
The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims whose lawyers are obviously incompetent. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims frivolously claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.
Daniel ("I'm too incompetent to address this matter") Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: 'It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It's an obstruction of justice.'
Canon law expert John Q. Obvious pointed out that the "clock" of when the complaint can be filed does not start "ticking" when "the kid turns 18." The "kid" can bring an action against the priest even if he is under 18 years of age. What the norms do is guarantee that he has until he is 28 to bring the action so that he isn't forced to bring the action while he is still a child in order to get it heard.
Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea who used thumbscrews to wring the tearful and much-resisted admission out of him that the letter
extendedclarified the church'sCDF's jurisdiction and "control" (Dum! Dum! Dum!) over sexual assault crimes in terms of he Church's internal law.
<guilt by association smear>The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church's opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.
'In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,' Bertone said. </guilt by association smear>
Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. 'They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases in terms of their own law. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can't investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,' Shea added. "Because obviously if a Church investigation is under way, or if the ecclesiastical statue of limitations has expired, that totally binds the hands of civil authorities. We're living in a theocracy, after all. There's no point in the victim contacting the civil authorities to report the matter. They're powerless unless the Church allows them to do something here."
An unnamed and therefore sinister spokeswoman in the Vatican press office who obviously doesn't hang out on the Vatican web site very much declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. 'This is not a public document since you'd have to, like, go on the Internet to find it, so we would not talk about it,' she said.
(CHT to the reader who e-mailed!)