Secret Vatican Edict: Don't Report Abusive Priests
At a later meeting, bishops told to remember they were 'not policemen'
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 19, 2011 7:23 AM CST
This image shows a copy of a newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warning Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police.   (AP Photo/RTE)

(Newser) – The Vatican is scrambling to explain a secret 1997 edict rejecting an Irish Catholic Church proposal to report pedophile priests to the local authorities. The “strictly confidential” document, obtained by Ireland’s RTE television for a new documentary, said that reporting priests might give them grounds to appeal to the Holy See, which would be “highly embarrassing and detrimental.” One Irish bishop called it “a mandate … to conceal the reported crimes of a priest.”

At a 1999 meeting in Rome, Irish church authorities were reminded they were “bishops first, not policemen,” according to the Irish Times. Abuse victims in the US called the document “the smoking gun we’ve been looking for.” But the Church tells the AP that the document is being misinterpreted. The church, a spokesman contends, merely wanted to ensure that canonical law was followed precisely so priests couldn't avoid church punishments. Some priests, he explained, solicited sex in confessionals, meaning that under church law, it must be dealt with in secrecy.

View 1 more image
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Secret Vatican Edict: Dont Report Abusive Priests is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 34 comments
Jan 19, 2011 8:28 PM CST
"Let the crime be done in secret." the Roman Catholic Cosa Nostra.
Jan 19, 2011 8:23 PM CST
Buh-buh-buh-Bennie and the Peds......BENNAY.......BENNAY...BENNAY.....BENNIE AND THE PEHHH-EDS.... I so wish Elton would re-record that song with my twisted take on it.......
Jan 19, 2011 4:03 PM CST
#1 Throughout history, man has used religion as a convenient excuse to do any monstrous thing he pleases. #2 Man brashly assumes (unprovable) forgiveness from God, if not divine direction. #3 God chuckles at the fools, then goes back to enjoying the misery and horror.