Thursday, January 20, 2011

New York Times Editorial on 1997 Vatican Letter to Irish Bishops: New Doubts about Claim that Vatican Has Not Impeded Criminal Investigation of Abuse

This will have the apologists for the current leaders of the Catholic church up in arms: the New York Times dares again to address the abuse crisis, and not in a way that flatters church authorities.  The Times editorializes today about the latest finding of a Vatican cover-up of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church, the 1997 letter to the Irish bishops.  The editorial concludes:

Rome officials insist that the letter from Rome is outdated, misinterpreted and superseded by tougher church rules. Unfortunately, the latest policies of the Vatican do not mandate the zero-tolerance reforms that ranking officials in the United States and elsewhere were forced to proclaim as the scandal demoralized church faithful worldwide.

It is commendable that Pope Benedict XVI has been apologizing and promising a firmer hand. But current Vatican policy, updated last year, offers merely a nonbinding advisory — not a firm mandate — that diocesan officials should report crimes to police.

This is cold comfort to worried Catholic parents or anyone else relying on the rule of law.

As the editorial observes, "The Vatican’s insistence that it never impeded criminal investigations of pedophile priests has been thrown into doubt by a 1997 letter from the pope’s representative in Dublin warning against a mandate by Irish church leaders for full cooperation with criminal authorities."  Not good news for a religious organization whose reason for existence is supposed to be to heal the wounds of the world and present the world a sign of God's universal love--not good news, when this image of criminal evasion of responsibility increasingly dominates news coverage in the secular press.

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