Title V: The Worst Crime
From the Link: http://catholicarrogance.org/Catholic/RC_clericalpedophilia.html
“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.
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.
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.
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
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.
An 11th-Century Scandal
“Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction and who by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin. Listen, I say, and be shrewd enough to understand that all of you alike are deserving of death, that is, not only those who do such things, but also they who approve those who practice them (Rom 1:32).”
Drawing on the model that the bishop or priest is married to the church, Damian accused both those who sexually abused the people under their care and those who allowed such abuse to take place with the crime of spiritual incest. But whereas biological parents who committed incest were subject in the Middle Ages to excommunication and exile, Damian felt that bishops who betrayed their spiritual children deserved a harsher penalty. Their betrayal ran deeper.
Unfortunately, Pope Leo IX disagreed with Peter Damian’s analysis of the problem of clerical sexual abuse. He was willing to punish clerics who committed acts of anal intercourse with boys and adolescents, but he minimized the punishment of clerics who performed other sexual acts with children and adults of both sexes.
Shortly after the election of Pope Nicholas II (1058-61), Damian called attention to the issue again. His complaint to the new pope has a modern sound: Indeed, in our day the genuine custom of the Roman Church seems to be observed in this way, that regarding other practices of ecclesiastical discipline, a proper investigation is held; but a prudent silence is maintained concerning clerical sexuality for fear of insults from the laity. Damian urged the pope to bring the issue out into the open and to punish both the sexual offenders and the bishops who failed in their duty to punish and to depose sexual predators. He complained that occasionally priests were disciplined, but with bishops we pay our reverence with silent tolerance, which is totally absurd.
According to Damian, punishing those who hold positions of authority and oversight is the only way to restore credibility in times of scandal. Damian recounted the story of the Old Testament priest Phinehas. Finding one of the most prominent Israelite chiefs having sex with a Midianite prostitute, Phinehas exposed the pair to the people as they were having sex and skewered them with a spear. By this action Phinehas imitated God’s justice and sent the message that the laws would be enforced.
Damian notes that most of the Israelite men around Phinehas were consorting with prostitutes. Yet Phinehas struck down only the most powerful and socially prominent offenders. The conclusion to be drawn is that the powerful should be held to a higher standard. Thus in Nm 25:4, when Eli failed to punish his son, God struck him down. His inaction brought the priesthood into disrepute. Likewise, Damian asserted, when the magisterial hierarchy fails to enforce discipline, they undermine the legitimacy of the ecclesiastical office.
Eli was stripped of his power, privileges and wealth. Damian believed the bishops should also lose the trappings of episcopal office. He predicted that God’s agents for stripping the bishops of the wealth and privileges they had taken for granted would be the laity. The laity had granted the clergy temporal authority and wealth; so when the clergy failed in their spiritual mission, it was the laity that had the duty to take these things back, in collaboration with reformers in the clergy and religious orders.
Women held the lowest place in the church during the 11th century, but Damian believed that they too had a duty to correct the clergy. Their inclusion by him in the process of reforming even the highest members of the clergy illustrates Damian’s view that all in the church have the duty to correct their superiors publicly when they see serious sin or deviations from tradition. Virtue and power were not determined by a person’s sex. Rather, virtue is a gift from God.
So in 1064 Damian wrote to Duchess Adelaide of Turin, urging her to use her political power to address problems related to clerical sexual abuse. Using language that may seem offensive to us, he praised God for making Adelaide as strong as a man and drew upon a host of biblical citations, including the examples of Deborah, Jael, Judith, Esther, Abigail and other women who corrected and punished weak, evil or fearful men, to justify her action in reforming the male members of the clergy. The scriptural stories proved that God sometimes chooses women to be instruments of a more glorious triumph.
At the very least, Damian’s story calls into question the practice of covering up sins as a means to avoid scandal. It also provides a road map for church leaders to recover credibility by disciplining the bishops who have enabled sexual predators to damage the most vulnerable members of the people of God. And if the magisterial hierarchy proves unable to reform itself on these matters, St. Peter Damian offers a Catholic model of collaborative reform that includes the laity, religious, deacons and priests. Most important, his story shows that we have overcome sexual abuse scandals in the past by upholding faithfulness to our tradition and maintaining vigilance against corruption.