Category Archives: Crimen Sollicitationis

Therefore I accuse by Vinnie Nauheimer


Therefore I accuse by  Vinnie Nauheimer

"Saint" Peter Damian's admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

“Saint” Peter Damian’s admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

Due to the global ongoing sexual abuse and cover-up by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, it is safe to assume that the only part of Crimen Sollicitationis that was adhered to was the demand for secrecy. Up until 2002 almost every settlement involving sexual abuse by a priest came with an enforceable gag order on the victim. The victims were silenced while most offending priests were moved to new hunting grounds.

The logical question to ask is, “Cui Bono,” who benefits? Who benefits from the silence? It could be argued that the priest and his accuser benefit from the silence. However, since there were no remedies for the care, compensation or treatment of the victim, it is hard to see how victims benefited from Crimen instruction. There has never been any proof whatsoever of rampant false charges being brought against innocent priests. Therefore innocent priests haven’t benefited. So who are the chief beneficiaries of the documentCrimen Sollicitationis? The sexually abusive priest and the Roman Catholic Church are the only beneficiaries.

Therefore, I accuse!

Lest Crimen sidetrack us, the salient points are:
1. The document was sent from the International Headquarters.
2. The document was sent out globally.
3. The document was sent in secrecy.
4. The document demanded secrecy.
5. The penalty for violating secrecy is the harshest penalty the church can mete out: excommunication.
6. It labels the sexual abuse of children as “The Worst Crime” thereby admitting to the world the Vatican’s complete understanding of the vile nature of the act of sexually abusing children.

By their own hand they are condemned.

In the 28 countries we know about, the rape, sodomization, and molestation of children are publicly documented. Why then hasn’t Interpol gotten involved? Interpol states that the protection of children is one of their primary goals. This is the first paragraph taken from Interpol’s page on children:

Crimes against children

Children are the most vulnerable individuals in our society; they are also the most precious commodity that the world has and have a right to be protected from all forms of abuse. INTERPOL as an organization is also committed to eradicating the sexual abuse of children and has passed several resolutions making crimes against children one of International policing top priorities.5

They tell us that, not preventing, but eradicating (wiping out) sexual abuse is one of their top priorities. How can the sexual abuse of children be a top priority when the chief global culprit, the Roman Catholic Church has not been formerly accused by either the UN or Interpol?

0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-01I accuse!

The evidence is abundant for any who would make even a cursory examination of the facts. The Dallas Morning News did an entire series on the international scope of both clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up. Central to the series was the theme of hierarchy moving predator priests internationally in order to save them from being tried for crimes committed or to provide new hunting grounds or both.6

The facts accuse!

The need to protect children around the world is a global priority of United Nations. The U.N. through its UNICEF organization has put together “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Here are articles nineteen and thirty-four from that convention, which address the sexual abuse of children.

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Article 34

States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

  1. The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
  2. The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
  3. The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.7

I accuse the RCC of violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child!

The Holy See, which could be a member of the United Nations by virtue of the fact that the Vatican is a city-state, has elected not to become a member of the UN. Rather it has been granted the nomenclature of permanent observer. This means that they enjoy the full rights of every sovereign member except the right to vote. In this way they can lobby for whatever they desire and not have to go on record as voting for or against an issue.

They chose to not to support “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.” The Holy See declared that “the application of the Convention should be compatible in practice with the particular nature of the Vatican City State and of the sources of its objective law.” in a statement issued when they declined to be a signatory. To date, all members but two have ratified the Convention.8

The United Nations through Interpol, its international police agency, and UNICEF, their children’s agency recognize the need to police and prevent the sexual abuse of children throughout the world. They state this is a top priority. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been widely accepted by governments around the world, seeks to end the sexual abuse of children. Why then have the UN, UNICEF, and Interpol chosen to totally ignore the most public, international series of sex crimes and cover-ups against children running from the twentieth into the twenty-first century?

I accuse!

"Saint" Peter Damian

“Saint” Peter Damian

Having established that the sexual abuse of children is accepted by the RCC as being a criminal act, it follows that aiding and abetting criminals is also a crime. The international criminal activity of aiding and abetting sexual predators by the RCC is well documented. The award winning newspaper The Dallas Morning News did an excellent series of articles dealing with the international flight of pedophile priests to escape prosecution entitled Runaway Priests. The following are excerpts from some of their articles as listed on the website Bishop-accountability.org.

Dr. Navarro-Valls (chief spokesperson for the pope) previously declined to comment on The News’ investigation, which found more than 200 accused priests, brothers and other Catholic workers hiding across international borders and living in unsuspecting communities, often with the church’s support. About 30 of the men were wanted by law enforcement in another country.9

Where is Interpol? Where is the outcry from UNICEF?

Bishop Thomas V. Daily of the Diocese of Brooklyn, in an exchange of correspondence with a Venezuelan bishop in 1991 about allegations against Father Diaz, praised the priest’s work in his diocese even as a 60-count indictment was pending against him in Queens on child sexual abuse charges. Later that year, after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in the case, Father Diaz was deported to Venezuela, where the pattern of victimizing young boys continued unabated.

And so it went throughout Father Diaz’s ministry. Moving from country to country, from parish to parish, from victim to victim, he was often held unaccountable by church officials and was treated delicately by some law enforcement authorities, the interviews and documents show.10

How can the above be anything but an international criminal conspiracy?

His order, the Salesians of Don Bosco, has long moved priests accused of sexual abuse from country to country, away from law enforcement and victims. Indeed, it is how many others in the Catholic Church have dealt with the problem, a yearlong Dallas Morning News investigation has found.11

The crimes committed by the hierarchy of the RCC against the children of the world have been documented many times in many countries. In each country from Poland, to Ireland, to the United States around and down to Australia, the story is the same. Priests who commit criminal acts of sexual abuse against children are shuffled from country to country with no regard for either local or international law. These priests are shuffled by a complicit hierarchy who are guilty of aiding and abetting criminals. Once transferred, these priests are free to prey upon a fresh population of unsuspecting families who revere the priest as god’s representative on earth.

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

In 2002 Pope John Paul II stated before the world, “There is no room in the priesthood for those who sexually abuse children.”12 But nothing was done; priests were still being shuffled and names of priestly perpetrators are still a closely guarded secret. In April of 2008, while on the plane over to the United States, Benedict XVI said, “I am deeply ashamed” 13 while referring to the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal. On July 19, 2008, in Australia, he said,

“I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”14

“And those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice!” Strong words from the pope! The pope is an honorable man; bishops and cardinals are all honorable men and they speak well. Yet nothing was said about revoking Crimen Sollicitationis. Did he forget that as Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001, he reaffirmed its validity? He can say one thing publicly, but as long as he still binds everyone with knowledge of clergy abuse to the absolute law of secrecy under the chapter 11, “ a secret of the Holy Office,15” the pope is only mouthing words. As long as Cardinals, Law, Mahony, George, Egan and Levada remain in office, he is only mouthing words. As long as bishops and the leaders of religious orders who shuffled pedophiles from country to country remain in the priesthood, the pope is only mouthing words. The pope is the only one who can start bringing those responsible for these evils to justice!

It is time to put an end to the global scourge of clerical child abuse and put these criminal priests behind bars along with the members of the hierarchy who have purposefully aided them. (It seems that Pope Benedict agrees with me.) These crimes are a violation of God’s law, Church law, Civil law, and International law (all covered in this treatise). As proven in the United States, the only thing that will change the way the RCC harbors their criminals is a courtroom. Interpol must aid in the capture of these international child abusing fugitives and the U.N. must bring charges against the Vatican in the World Court. Only the credible threat of listing the Vatican as a criminal organization, making them stand trial for the abuse of tens of thousands of children and covering-up for thousands of priests will force the much needed changes while making the world a safer place for children. Interpol and the UN had every right to get involved in the clergy abuse scandal because it violates their conventions. Now both the UN and Interpol have an invitation to get involved straight from the pope’s mouth. Pope Benedict XVI has just asked for “aid and assistance” followed up by “those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.” The Vicar of Christ on earth is asking for help in bringing to justice to those who committed and helped in crimes of sexual abuse against children. What greater invitation can be made?

Note 1. To any lawyers who may represent or have represented survivors of sexual abuse. Crimen Sollicitationis means “crime of solicitation” which refers to crimes of the confessional. Reading this text is extremely difficult because everything up until Title V is about soliciting in the confessional. Title V paragraph 72 states: “Those things that have been stated concerning the crime of solicitation up to this point are also valid, changing only those things necessary to be changed by their very nature, for the worst crime,” TakeCrimen Sollicitationis (English version) and put it in a Word document. Then do a find/replace with find Solicitation and replace it with child abuse. You will be amazed at how it clarifies the document giving you a clearer understanding of what Crimen Sollicitationis says about the clergy abuse of children.

About the author: Vinnie Nauheimer has written extensively on the subject of clerical abuse. He has written two books on the subject of clergy abuse. One of poetry “Silent Screams” and one comprised of selected letters sent over an eight year period on the subject of clergy abuse called “Epistles on Clergy Abuse.” His art, poetry and writing can be found on websites around the world. Though they don’t issue a degree in Clergy Abuse, Mr. Nauheimer successfully survived advanced classes from the School of Intimidation and Slander sponsored by the NY Archdiocese. Both his and his family’s degree of pain were acknowledged by a Grand Jury probing the issue of clergy abuse. His goals are the same as those stated by Pope Benedict XVI in Australia on July 19, 2008: “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases_by_country#See_also July 9, 2008 and http://www.scribd.com/doc/1021887/SEXUAL-ABUSE-IN-THE-CATHOLIC-CHURCH-2002   – July 9, 2008
2. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008
3. The 1922 Instruction and the 1962 Instruction “Crimen Sollicitationis,” Promulgated by the Vatican: Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.   – June 30, 2008
4. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008
5. http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/Default.asp   – July 11, 2008
6. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/longterm/stories/Runaway_
priests_hiding_in_plain_sight.5ee1e9be.html,   – July 11, 2008
7. http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/Conventions/unConvCR.asp   – July 12, 2008
8. http://www.unicef.org/pon95/chil0008.html   – July 12, 2008
9. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2004_09_12_Dunklin_InThe.htm   – July 12, 2008
10. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/timeline/2002-04-20-Murphy-Diaz.htm   – July 13, 2008
11. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2004_06_20_Dunklin_ConvictedSexual.htm July 13, 2008
12. http://www.poynterextra.org/extra/abusetracker/2002_04_21_archive.htm   – July 18, 2008
13. http://aftermathnews.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/pope-says-he-is-deeply-ashamed-of-clergy-abuse-scandal/  – July 18, 2008

14. http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=2&ContentID=85771   – July 19, 2008
15. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008.

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Title V: The Worst Crime


Title V: The Worst Crime

From the Link: http://catholicarrogance.org/Catholic/RC_clericalpedophilia.html

1901813_10153687207618747_1757826015825436154_n“73. To have the worst crime, for the penal effects, one must do the equivalent of the following: any obscene, external act, gravely sinful, perpetrated in any way by a cleric or attempted by him with youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality).

74. Against accused clerics for these crimes, if they are exempt religious, and unless there takes place at the same time the crime of solicitation, even the regular superior can proceed, according to the holy canons and their proper constitutions, either in an administrative or a judicial manner. However, they must communicate the judicial decision pronounced as well as the administrative decision in the more serious cases to the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office.4

The wording of Title V is extremely important as it confirms the Vatican’s own knowledge and acceptance of the fact that the sexual abuse of children, regardless of sex, is a crime. The Vatican did not use the words evil, sinful, offensive, lapse of judgment, moment of weakness or illness. They used the word “crime” which is the only word that can adequately describe the act of a priest preying on a child for his own sexual gratification. Therefore, by stating that “the sexual abuse of children is a crime,” the Vatican tacitly acknowledges before God and man that priests who commit the crime of having sex with children, are in fact criminals! They also demand that these criminal acts be reported to their international headquarters, the Vatican.

Criminals commit crimes. Sex with children is a crime under both canon and civil law. Therefore, there can be no doubt that priests who commit the crime of sexual abuse with children are criminals! Ipso facto, those who protect these criminals are themselves guilty of aiding and abetting criminals. The Vatican has known for centuries that the sexual abuse of children is a criminal offense. In that, they are in total agreement with the secular law of just about every country on earth.”

Not only is the sexual abuse of children considered a crime by the Vatican, but to add emphasis to the matter, the Vatican chose to label it “The Worst Crime.” Of all the adjectives that are available to describe a crime, the Vatican chose to call the sexual abuse of children “The Worst.” What does that make the men who allow these sexual predators ply their trade unabated? What does this do to the commonly used hierarchal defense, “I didn’t know?” What does it say about the hundreds of bishops in 28 known countries around the world who failed to live up to the Vatican’s standards? What does it say about a Vatican that tolerated these failures?

Crimen Sollicitationis directs the bishops to prosecute crimes of child sexual abuse? Failing to do so makes them all scofflaws! They scoffed at every indecency perpetrated on the bodies of children around the world. Neither bishops nor the Vatican can claim ignorance of the law anymore! Whether it was an internal or external law, they failed to prosecute the rapists, sodomizers and molesters in their midst; by their own account, the criminal element.

The English Translation of the Crimen Sollicitationis

In a document addressed to “all patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other diocesan ordinaries”, the Vatican gives instructions on the “manner of proceeding in cases of solicitations”:

The text, it adds, is to be “diligently stored in the secret archives… as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries”.

Some excerpts follow:

The crime of solicitation takes place when a priest tempts a penitent, whoever that person is, either in the act of sacramental confession, whether before or immediately afterwards, whether on the occasion or the pretext of confession, whether even outside the times for confession in the confessional or [in a place] other than that [usually] designated for the hearing of confessions or [in a place] chosen for the simulated purpose of hearing a confession…

[The object of this temptation] is to solicit or provoke [the penitent] toward impure and obscene matters, whether by words or signs or nods of the head, whether by touch or by writing whether then or after [the note has been read] or whether he has had with [that penitent] prohibited and improper speech or activity with reckless daring…

The Ordinary of the place in these cases is the judge even for regulars [religious], even though exempt. It is indeed strictly prohibited for their superiors to interpose themselves in cases pertaining to the Holy Office.

However, having safeguarded the right of the Ordinary, there is nothing to prevent superiors themselves, if by chance they have discovered [one of their] subjects delinquent in the administration of the sacrament of Penance, from being able and having the obligation of being diligently watchful over those same persons, and, even having administered salutary penances, to admonish and correct, and, if the case demands it, to remove him from some ministry.

They will also be able to transfer him to another [assignment], unless the Ordinary of the place has forbidden it because he has already accepted the denunciation and has begun the inquisition.

Although, as a rule, a single judge, by reason of its secrecy, is prescribed for cases of this type, it is not forbidden, however, for the Ordinary in the more difficult cases to approve one or two assessors and counsellors, selected from the synodal judges; or even to three judges, likewise chosen from the synodal judges, to hand over the case to the judges to be handled with the mandate of proceeding collegially…

Minor helpers are to be used for nothing unless it is absolutely necessary; and these are to be chosen, in so far as possible, from the priestly order; always, however, they are to be proved faithfulness and mature without exception.

Because, however, what is treated in these cases has to have a greater degree of care and observance so that those same matters be pursued in a most secretive way, and, after they have been defined and given over to execution, they are to be restrained by a perpetual silence, each and everyone pertaining to the tribunal in any way or admitted to knowledge of the matters because of their office, is to observe the strictest secret… under the penalty of excommunication.

The oath of keeping the secret must be given in these cases also by the accusers of those denouncing [the priest] and the witnesses.

First knowledge of the crime

Since the crime of solicitation takes place in rather rare decisions, lest it remain occult and unpunished and always with inestimable detriments to souls, it was necessary for the one person, as for many persons, conscious of that [act of solicitation], namely, the solicited penitent, to be compelled to reveal it through a denunciation imposed by positive law. Therefore:

The penitent must denounce the accused priest of the delict of solicitation in confession within a month to the Ordinary of the place or to the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office; and the confessor must, burdened seriously in conscience, to warn the penitent of this duty.

The faithful, however, who knowingly have disregarded the obligation to denounce the person by whom he was solicited, within a month, falls into an excommunication, not to be absolved unless after he has satisfies the obligation or has promised seriously that he would do so.

The duty of denunciation is a personal one and is to be fulfilled regularly by the person himself who has been solicited.

Anonymous denunciations generally must be rejected. However, they can have supportive force or give the occasion for further investigations, if the particular circumstances of the matters involved render an accusation probable.

The obligation of denunciation on the part of the solicited penitent does not cease because of a spontaneous confession by the soliciting confessor done by chance, nor because of his being transferred, promoted, condemned, or presumably reformed and other reasons of the same kind. It ceases, however, at his death.

Before [the person making the denunciation] is dismissed, there should be presented to him, as above, an oath of observing the secret, threatening him, if there is a need, with an excommunication reserved to the Ordinary or to the Holy See.

The process

If two witnesses cannot be found where each individual knows both the denounced and the denouncer, or if they cannot be interrogated at the same time without the danger of scandal or without detriment to the good name concerning him, then arrangements to be made, so that two persons, by means of a divided [testimony], namely, interrogate two witnesses only about the denounced and another two only about the individual denouncers.

In this case, however, it will be necessary to inquire elsewhere as to whether hatred, enmity or any other human disaffection against the denunciated [priest] was the case.

If it is evident that the denunciation totally lacks a foundation, [the priest] should order this to be declared in the Acts, and the documents of the accusation should be destroyed.

If the indications of the crime are vague and indeterminate or uncertain, he should order that the Acts be put into the archives, to be taken up again if something else happens in the future.

If, however, there are indications of a crime serious enough but not yet sufficient to institute an accusatorial process, he should order that the accused be admonished according to the different [types of] cases the first or second [time?], paternally, seriously or most seriously, adding, if necessary, an explicit threat of the trial process, should some other new accusation is laid upon [the accused] meanwhile, a check should be kept on the morale of the accused.

Penalties

Those who are in danger of falling back [into their former ways], and therefore of becoming greater recidivists should be submitted to particular vigilance.

As often as, in the prudent judgment of the Ordinary, it seems necessary for the amendment of the delinquent, for the removal of the near occasion [of soliciting in the future], or for the prevention of scandal or reparation for it, there should be added a prescription for a prohibition of remaining in a certain place.

Official communications

Whenever an Ordinary immediately accepts a denunciation of the crime of solicitation, he should not omit telling this to the Holy Office. And if by chance he treats of a priest whether secular or religious having residence in another territory, he should transmit at the same time, an authentic copy of the denunciation itself.

Any Ordinary who has proceeded correctly against some priest who is soliciting should not omit to informing the Holy Congregation of the Holy Office, and, if it is a matter in which a religious is involved, also the General Superior concerning the outcome of the case.

If any priests condemned of the crime of solicitation, or even only admonished, should transfer his residence to another territory, [one] Ordinary should immediately warn the [other] Ordinary of the things that preceded that person and of his juridical status.

If any priests suspended in a case of solicitation from hearing sacramental confessions but not from sacred preaching happens to go to another territory to preach, the Ordinary of this territory should be reminded by the prelate or the accused, whether secular or religious, that he cannot be utilised for hearing sacramental confessions.

All these official communications shall always be made under the secret of the Holy Office; and, since they concern the common good of the church to the greatest degree, the precept of doing these things obliges under serious sin [sub gravi].

From the audience of the Holy Father, 16 March 1962

Our Most Holy Father John XXIII, in an audience granted to the most eminent Cardinal Secretary of the Holy Office on 16 March 1962, deigned to approve and confirm this instruction, ordering upon those to whom it pertains to keep and observe it in the minutest detail.

At Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation, 16 March 1962.

Place of the seal

A Cardinal Ottaviani

Appendix

The formula for taking an oath to exercise one’s office faithfully and to observe the secret of the Holy Office

I promise sacredly, vow and swear, to observe inviolably the secret in all matters and details which will take place in exercising the aforesaid duty.

 

OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished


OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished


June 9, 2014, 10 p.m

From the Link: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2340393/opinion-pontifical-secret-allows-abuse-to-go-unpunished/

"Saint" Peter Damian's admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

“Saint” Peter Damian’s admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

THE Catholic Church for some 1500 years recognised that simply stripping a priest of his status as a priest was not a sufficient punishment for the sexual abuse of children.

Canon law from the 12th century decreed that he should be dismissed from the priesthood and handed over to the civil authority for punishment in accordance with the civil law.

A commission set up by Pope Pius X in 1904 drafted a uniform code of canon law by discarding papal and council decrees that were no longer relevant, modifying others and creating new ones.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law discarded the decrees requiring priests who sexually assaulted children to be handed over to the civil authorities.

Five years later, Pope Pius XI issued his 1922 decree, Crimen Sollicitationis, imposing the “secret of the Holy Office”, a “permanent silence” on all information the Church obtained through its canonical investigations of clergy sex abuse of children. There were no exceptions allowing the reporting of these crimes to the civil authorities.

In 1962, Pope St. John XXIII reissued Crimen Sollicitationis. In 1974, Pope Paul VI, by his decree, Secreta Continere renamed ‘‘the secret of the Holy Office’’ ‘‘the pontifical secret’’, and it continued to apply to the sexual abuse of children under the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.

In 2001, Pope St. John Paul II confirmed the pontifical secret under some new procedures, and in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI expanded its reach by applying it to allegations of priests having sex with intellectually disabled people. In 2010, the Holy See allowed a restricted form of reporting to the civil authorities but only where the civil law required it.

In most parts of the world, and in every state of Australia, apart from NSW, there is no such requirement to report in the vast majority of cases. The pontifical secret still applies where there are no such reporting laws.

The policy of secrecy may not have been so disastrous for children had canon law’s internal disciplinary procedures been adequate to dismiss such priests. But they were not.

Canon law required bishops to try and reform such priests before dismissing them. In his 1983 Code of Canon Law, Pope John Paul II imposed a five-year limitation period that effectively meant there would be no canonical trials of sex-abusing priests.

It also gave such priests a Catch-22 defence: a priest cannot be dismissed for paedophilia because he is a paedophile.

The more children a priest abused, the less likely it was could he be dismissed.

In November 2009, the Murphy Commission in Ireland examined all the above matters, and found that ‘‘the structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated’’ the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and severely criticised the secrecy imposed by canon law and its capacity to discipline priests.

In March 2010, Pope Benedict wrote a Pastoral Letter to the people of Ireland, and ignored the Commission’s criticisms of canon law. Instead he blamed the bishops for the cover-up, and for not applying ‘‘the long-established norms of canon law’’.

The submissions made by the Victorian Church to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and by the Australian Church to the current Royal Commission follow the same script: there is no mention of the pontifical secret or the inadequacies of the canon law to dismiss these priests.

There are theological reasons behind this reluctance to face the unpalatable truth. Martin Luther claimed that the only source of divine inspiration was the Bible, a view influenced by the corruption of the Renaissance Popes.

The Catholic Church could explain the “bad popes” under the bad apples in the barrel theory: the Holy Spirit does inspire the Church to lead the world to salvation even through sinful popes like Alexander VI with his string of mistresses and eight children.

But now there is hard evidence that six popes since 1922, two of them now saints, maintained and expanded a system of cover-up of child sexual abuse by clergy through canon law, in order to save the Church’s reputation.

These were not “bad popes” of the Renaissance kind.

An unintended consequence of this policy was an increase in damage done to children, a crime that the Church’s founder thought was so bad that those responsible should be thrown in the sea with millstones around their necks.

 Kieran Tapsell is a retired Sydney lawyer with degrees in theology and law. He is the author of  Potiphar’s Wife: The Secret of the Holy Office and Child Sexual Abuse