Moral Low Ground

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‘Smoking Gun’ Letter Proves Vatican Ordered Cover-Up of Child Rape

For  years, the Vatican has defended itself in child rape cases by swearing that it played no role in ordering the cover-up of evidence against priests. But a newly released 1997 letter from the Vatican to Catholic bishops in Ireland ordering them not to report child rape cases to police proves the church has been lying all along.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcaster RTE, instructs bishops to handle sex abuse cases though internal church channels rather than through the police. The Catholic Church in Ireland had launched an initiative to help police identify pedophile priests that included mandatory reporting but Vatican officials said that this conflicted with canon law, the body of rules and regulations established by the Church. “Mandatory reporting gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature,” the letter says.

The letter, written by Archbishop Luciano Storero, goes on to order bishops to follow Church canon and cover up allegations of child rape.

“I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations of the Congregation in its regard, underlining that in the sad cases of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his bishop,” it states.

Colm O’Gorman, Irish director of human rights group Amnesty International, said “the letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican’s intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere.” O’Gorman, who was himself raped by an Irish priest when he was a young alter boy, says there is evidence that the instructions laid out in the 1997 letter were being followed as recently as 2008.

Two 2009 reports sponsored by the Irish government found decades of Vatican cover-ups of child sexual abuse, with tens of thousands of children raped or abused since the 1930s. Church leaders in Ireland did not begin reporting suspected pedophile rapist priests until the mid-1990s.

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2 Comments

  1. RickMay 26, 2012 at 1:01 pmReply

    Well, as long as no one uses contraceptives, I guess it will all be alright. The Catholic church has long lost any standing on the moral high ground for any cause at all.

    • Brett WilkinsMay 26, 2012 at 1:36 pmReplyAuthor

      It’s all about priorities, huh?

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