Evidence Found Linking Vatican to Sex-Abuse Cover Up
It's the "smoking gun" that shows vatican authorities indeed had a role in the cover up of abuse by Irish clergy. The letter in questions warned Irish bishops not to report all abuse cases to police, technically due to church rules statig punishment must come from within the church hierarchy and that bishops must not level civil punishment against those under their purview. Obtained yesterday by Irish news source RTE, the letter was written in response to a 1996 Irish initiative that would have formed a mechanism for mandatory reporting abuse cases to civil authorities.
According to the AP, the letter directly reveals the Catican's present-day hypocrisy on the matter:
The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church's right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.
The Vatican insisted yesterday that the letter was meant to protect the secrecy of the confessional, but victim's rights advocates say it is certain to be used in evidence in ongoing and forthcoming lawsuits.
"We now have evidence that the Vatican deliberately intervened to order bishops not to turn pedophile priests over to law enforcement,"Joelle Casteix of thegroup Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told the AP. "And for civil lawsuits, this letter shows what victims have been saying for dozens and dozens of years: What happened to them involved a concerted cover-up that went all the way to the top."
The AP notes that the Vatican has still neglected to endorse Irish policy documents on clergy sexual abuse.
Read more about this explosive document at the AP (via the NY Times).