Denial is not just a river in Egypt, Rome has problems too

This meshes nicely with the planned beatification of Pope John Paul II as the letter was sent out while he was on the Papal throne

DUBLIN — A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure with the potential to fuel more lawsuits worldwide against the Vatican, which has long denied any involvement in cover-ups.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests.

The letter’s message undermines persistent Vatican claims that the church never instructed 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 hand that power to civil authorities.

Catholic officials in Ireland declined AP requests on the letter, which RTE said it received from an Irish bishop.

Child-abuse activists in Ireland said the 1997 letter should demonstrate, once and for all, that the protection of pedophile priests from criminal investigation was not only sanctioned by Vatican leaders but ordered by them. A key argument employed by the Vatican in defending dozens of lawsuits over clerical sex abuse in the United States is that it had no role in ordering local church authorities to suppress evidence of crimes.

It looks like various police forces around the world need to raid Catholic offices and churches as they did in Belgium.

The Guardian, June 24, 2010

Catholic headquarters in Belgium focus of police raids in sex abuse cases

Belgian police sources say church has been withholding information from its independent inquiry into sex abuse scandal

Of course, the Church just doesn’t get it, “Those Irish bishops weren’t supposed to stop speaking to the police. That’s not what the letter says.”

Vatican: 1997 Irish abuse letter ‘misunderstood’

VATICAN CITY – In a new round of damage control, the Vatican insisted Wednesday that a 1997 letter warning Irish bishops against reporting priests suspected of sex abuse to police had been “deeply misunderstood.”

The Associated Press on Tuesday reported the contents of the letter, in which the Vatican’s top diplomat in Ireland told bishops that their policy of mandatory reporting such cases to police “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.”

The newly revealed letter, obtained originally by Irish broadcaster RTE from an Irish bishop, has undermined persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never told bishops not to cooperate with police.

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