Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report abuse
(AP) 1/18/11 A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.
The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.
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.
Signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland, the letter instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.”
Storero wrote that canon law, which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church, “must be meticulously followed.” Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the “highly embarrassing” position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, he wrote….
To this day, the Vatican has not endorsed any of the Irish church’s three major policy documents since 1996 on safeguarding children from clerical abuse. Irish taxpayers, rather than the church, have paid most of the euro1.5 billion ($2 billion) to more than 14,000 abuse claimants dating back to the 1940s….
Storero warned that bishops who followed the Irish child-protection policy and reported a priest’s suspected crimes to police risked having their in-house punishments of the priest overturned by the Congregation for the Clergy.
The 2009 Dublin Archdiocese report found that this actually happened in the case of Tony Walsh, one of Dublin’s most notorious pedophiles, who used his role as an Elvis impersonator in a popular “All Priests Show” to get closer to kids.
Walsh was kicked out of the priesthood by a secret Dublin church court in 1993 but successfully appealed the punishment to a Vatican court, which reinstated him to the priesthood in 1994. He raped a boy in a pub restroom at his grandfather’s wake that year. Walsh since has received a series of prison sentences, most recently a 12-year term imposed last month. Investigators estimate he raped or molested more than 100 children. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iQmg5wDhFHeRAzpFnG-UvSvb-oZA?docId=b6d56708925949a8a674a8a69d1e30a9
Vatican Warned Bishops Not to Report Child Abuse
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN January 18, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/world/europe/19vatican.htm