Observe This!

by Jimmy Akin

in Benedict XVI

The British "newspaper" The Observer tells us the following:

Pope ‘obstructed’ sex abuse inquiry

Confidential letter reveals Ratzinger ordered bishops to keep allegations secret

Jamie ("I’m too unqualified to hold my job") Doward, religious affairs correspondent

Sunday April 24, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI faced irresponsible know-nothing claims last night he had ‘obstructed justice’ after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. The order was made in a confidentialpublicly available letter, obtained in a death-defying feat of investigative journalism by The Observer by downloading it from the Vatican’s web site where it has been available for years [HERE, YOU MORONS], which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001 before the U.S. sex scandal even broke out.

It asserted the church’s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors (gasp! next they’ll be wanting grand juries to do that!) and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthoodwhereas what we all know they should do is put the inquiries on CourtTV and hold regular press conferences and put all the humiliating charges and counter-charges out in public so we can sell more newspapers and have a media feeding frenzy and ruin the reputations of all involved by humiliating both innocent victims and priests who have been falsely accused. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II’s successor last week. (Dum! Dum! Dum!)

Please pay no attention to the fact that the document was part of the implementation effort for a set of norms that Pope John Paul II himself had just enacted nineteen days earlier in a letter [HERE/TRANSLATION WITH NORMS APPENDED], so Ratzinger was just doing what his boss told him to do. That shouldn’t get in the way of a good smear on the new pope.

Ambulance-chasing Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim without any foundation it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a ‘clear obstruction of justice’. Yes! By saying that the Church’s own internal investigation is to be secret, that totally prevents victims from contacting the police and reporting what happened to them. It stops them from obtaining their own civil legal representation. And it stops them from holding press conferences and explaining what happened. You can’t have both a closed-door internal Church investigation and a civil investigation at the same time. Everybody knows that!

The letter, ‘concerning very grave sins’, was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office <irrelevant historical smear>that once presided over the Inquisition</irrelevant historical smear> and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church’s position on a number of matterswhich canonical crimes fall under the CDF’s jurisdiction, ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric ‘with a minor below the age of 18 years’. Ha! Fooled you, didn’t we! You thought this document was about the sex abuse scandal (which hadn’t yet broken out in the U.S.) and how to cover it up, when really it was simply a clarification of which crimes the CDF has jurisdiction over! Ratzinger’s letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been ‘perpetrated with a minor by a cleric’ and thus prevent the state from doing diddly about them–Not! It says that the CDF has jurisdiction over these cases as far as church law is concerned, saying nothing about what civil courts may do.

The letter states that the church’s jurisdictiontime that the CDF has to hear the case before its competence expires ‘begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age’ and lasts for 10 years. Which says nothing about how long the secrecy lasts, despite what we said in the second paragraph, and which is actually an increase in the amount of time that one normally has to file a complaint, which is normally only three years [SEE CANON 1362 §1].

It orders that ‘preliminary investigations’ into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger’s office (Yes! He really said that! "Send them to my office! Don’t send them to anybody else. Send them to me only. Only I am to see them. Me. Me. Me."), which has the option if it feels like taking the afternoon off of referring them back to private tribunals in which the ‘functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests’–it being, of course, a bad idea to let priests be judged by "a jury of their peers."

‘Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,’ Ratzinger’s letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims whose lawyers are obviously incompetent. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims frivolously claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.

Daniel ("I’m too incompetent to address this matter") Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: ‘It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It’s an obstruction of justice.’

Canon law expert John Q. Obvious pointed out that the "clock" of when the complaint can be filed does not start "ticking" when "the kid turns 18." The "kid" can bring an action against the priest even if he is under 18 years of age. What the norms do is guarantee that he has until he is 28 to bring the action so that he isn’t forced to bring the action while he is still a child in order to get it heard.

Father John Beal, professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, gave an oral deposition under oath on 8 April last year in which he admitted to Shea who used thumbscrews to wring the tearful and much-resisted admission out of him that the letter extendedclarified the church’sCDF’s jurisdiction and "control" (Dum! Dum! Dum!) over sexual assault crimes in terms of he Church’s internal law.

<guilt by association smear>The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church’s opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.

‘In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,’ Bertone said. </guilt by association smear>

Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. ‘They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases in terms of their own law. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,’ Shea added. "Because obviously if a Church investigation is under way, or if the ecclesiastical statue of limitations has expired, that totally binds the hands of civil authorities. We’re living in a theocracy, after all. There’s no point in the victim contacting the civil authorities to report the matter. They’re powerless unless the Church allows them to do something here."

An unnamed and therefore sinister spokeswoman in the Vatican press office who obviously doesn’t hang out on the Vatican web site very much declined to comment when told about the contents of the letter. ‘This is not a public document since you’d have to, like, go on the Internet to find it, so we would not talk about it,’ she said.

SHEESH!!!

MORE WISDOM FROM ED PETERS.

(CHT to the reader who e-mailed!)

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{ 47 comments }

Brian April 29, 2005 at 10:44 am

Cool. I wish all of the garbage that came out of the media was filtered by sane, sensible folks like this!

Chris Weathers April 29, 2005 at 11:05 am

Thanks Jimmy…I knew sending it to you for fisking would be helpful.

BillyHW April 29, 2005 at 11:26 am

Well, at least they didn’t bring up the Pope’s Nazi past.

Benedict April 29, 2005 at 11:58 am

I enjoy no news except the Akin Red-Letter edition.

mio April 29, 2005 at 1:38 pm

Jimmy,
I do hope you sent a copy to the author of the Observer piece, for his/her edification.

Julie April 29, 2005 at 2:15 pm

I agree with mio.

Other Paul April 29, 2005 at 2:29 pm

I agree with Bertone.

Kathryn Judson May 1, 2005 at 8:41 am

Dynamite job! Thanks.
FYI: I’m a first-time visitor to your blog. I found you through a link to this post in a post at a brand-new blog (started last month) called Roma Locuta Est (http://voiceofrome.blogspot.com), which I stumbled onto yesterday thanks to checking my sitemeter reports. Gotta love this Internet!!!
And, by the way, Roma Locuta Est is one enthusiastic Catholic blog.
I’ll be back, I promise.

Terry May 2, 2005 at 7:43 am

“Because obviously if a Church investigation is under way, or if the ecclesiastical statue of limitations has expired, that totally binds the hands of civil authorities. We’re living in a theocracy, after all. There’s no point in the victim contacting the civil authorities to report the matter. They’re powerless unless the Church allows them to do something here.”
At which point we get the typical, obligatory response “And he said if I told anyone I’d go to Hell.”

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ericrazar July 14, 2007 at 9:08 pm

It is interesting to note that when you go to the vatican website i can only find the “2001 and 1962 secret but public documents” in latin when the canon law info is in english or other commonly spoken language.
I guess it is not convenient for the vatican to list more than latin version on the website for everyone to read. Just like its not convenient for the catholic church to pay out over 1.5 billion to victims over the years. Many times the settlements were done in secret.

Esquire July 14, 2007 at 10:21 pm

ericrazar,
You are a genius! It had never occurred to me before that the Vatican posting documents in Latin on its website was logically connected to secret settlements. Of course, now I see the obvious connection.
I feel so stupid for having thought the documents were posted in Latin just because that’s the language they were written in and they hadn’t been translated.
One observation as a lawyer, however. It is most common for the settlement of sexual abuse cases to be done in secret, and not just at the request of the defendant. That is the way that most of the settlements with the YMCA and with public school districts have been done, and either of those groups would dwarf the size and scope of amounts paid by Catholic dioceses.
Of course, they don’t have documents in Latin posted on their websites, which makes all the difference in the world.
(Say, you’re not a private detective or anything, are you?)

ericrazar July 17, 2007 at 3:50 am

Esquire,
Like a typical lawyer you like to twist what a person says.
My statement about the $1.5 billion point is what they are “admitting” they paid so far because of public record. Since so many are settled in secret who knows what they really shelled out. It would not suprise me to be 10x as much.
My point was the vatican seems to have no problem with providing english and other language versions “ON POLICY” when it is convenient to them for people to follow the canon law info.
You know what I mean, make normal catholic policy easy to read for the catholic “flock”, but keep the less popular issues like their child molestation “POLICY” untranslated. I would think with all the publicity this has gotten, the vatican would be more open to providing what there “POLICY” really is rather than keep the whole thing under cover like they have for over 50 years.
If you do you due diligence you would find that is was said the 1962 document copies was to be locked in each of the church pastors/bishops safe that they were sent to. Kind of makes it hard to let the other priests know what “policy” really is. Of course now we have the internet to find most of this stuff.
And of course the YMCA and american public schools would have there documents in english and not latin on there websites. Last I checked they are “american organizations” and should be in english or in the future “spanish” since we are going that way anyway.
The catholic church is supposed to be “moral world wide” organization therefore I expect openness “in all or most languages” to do the right thing not BS subterfuge like they have been doing for such a long time.
You can also see the Vatican lawyers are running scared when they have to ask President Bush for legal immuinity for the pope who is automaticly immune being a head of state. I guess they are not to up on international law to be asking in the first place. And to think these are supposed to be the smartest legal minds at his disposal. Maybe you should offer your genius services to help him out.
Finally, the catholic church will only wake up when the flock realizes they been had and will stop going and donating there hard earned money for it to be spent covering for 5% of there priests transgressions through the courts.

Esau July 17, 2007 at 9:55 am

It is interesting to note that when you go to the vatican website i can only find the “2001 and 1962 secret but public documents” in latin when the canon law info is in english or other commonly spoken language.
I guess it is not convenient for the vatican to list more than latin version on the website for everyone to read.

ericrazar,
Why don’t you browse more on the Vatican website.
If you do, you’ll encounter even more documents that are in Latin and are not available in English or any other languages.
The fact of the matter is that Latin is the official language of the Church. That is all.
Have you even read the translations of those original Latin documents rendered in the various other languages such as English?
They’re horrific!
They don’t even convey precisely what the Latin original says.
For example, take a look at the translation errors for the most recent Motu Proprio:
Summorum Pontificum problems…. translation
Also, take a look at the translation errors for the previously released Apostolic Exhortation:
A serious problem in Sacramentum caritatis 23
As even the latter document demonstrates, these translations that have been rendered in the various languages such as English and the like were/are, in fact, atrocious!
So, why don’t you first learn Latin and the difficulties of rendering an accurate translation into other languages prior to making such bold-faced, uncorroborated assumptions as you have here!
As these two instances demonstrate, the translation services of the Vatican unfortunately are greatly lacking in this competency.

David B. July 17, 2007 at 10:42 am

ericrazar,
Why don’t you try to learn Latin? Albino assassins will not kill you, and you will be able to read these super secret documents (that are posted on the Internet in a language that millions know.)!

David B. July 17, 2007 at 10:50 am

You know what I mean, make normal catholic policy easy to read for the catholic “flock”, but keep the less popular issues like their child molestation “POLICY” untranslated.
If the Church doesn’t want people to read it’s documents, why would it post them on the internet in any language? Your arrogant “if it’s not in English then it’s not really published” attitude is a joke.
I would think with all the publicity this has gotten, the vatican would be more open to providing what there “POLICY” really is rather than keep the whole thing under cover like they have for over 50 years.,/i>”
Look out! baseless, senseless no-nothingism at 3 ‘o clock!
The catholic church is supposed to be “moral world wide” organization therefore I expect openness “in all or most languages” to do the right thing not BS subterfuge like they have been doing for such a long time.
Examples?

Anonymous July 17, 2007 at 10:51 am

Anonymous July 17, 2007 at 10:52 am

Off

Esau July 17, 2007 at 10:57 am

If the Church doesn’t want people to read it’s documents, why would it post them on the internet in any language?
You’re arrogant “if it’s not in English then it’s not really published” attitude is a joke.

Great point, D.B.!

eric razar July 17, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Esau:
Thank you for illustrating my point why the documents need to be properly translated to english by the Vatican personel themselves and not an outside group.
But you seem to read my comments with your only focus on the translation issue. What about the hiding the truth issue of the very existence of the document. Read the first few sentences of the PDF below and you see what I mean or you going to tell me that translation is misunderstood/incorrect also. But especially read the blue boxed text.
http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Observer/documents/2003/08/16/Criminales.pdf
Also
If the Vatican experts cant do it, then what is the point to spread the Word of God or for the pope who likes to write latin in such a way to cause confusion and differences of opinion in what a document means when translated. I could understand a mistranslation of a document passed down through the ages from Christ’s time. However the authors of these documents I am talking about are still living or deceased within the past 50 years. If you couldn’t get the straight translation from them, then I say it was meant to be unclear on purpose. The authors knew what they meant. There is no excuse to be unclear when the guy who wrote it knows what he meant period!!! Especially when they knew full well children’s innocence was at stake.
This is equivalent to the legalese nonsense of modern laws that only lawyers can understand. There is few if any plain english contracts available. Most others you would need to pay a lawyer to interpret it for you. How convenient for the lawyer and the church to keep it unclear so they can modify the meaning as it is convenient to the situation at hand.
What it really means to me is this. IF the present and past pontiffs really thought how important those 2 documents were ( the 1962 and 2001 “Crime of Solicitation”), THey would have made sure that the documents would be translated so everyone could understand it show the churches position once and for all. I say again, They have the resources to do this translation just like he has all the the Vatican lawyers at his disposal to protect the churches interests. But of course why bother to translate them!! There were meant to be secret documents for high level church officials only. RIGHT?
Doesn’t it strike you funny? Why have a law (Latin or otherwise) that hardly anyone but high church officials even knows existed (at least in 1962 when the first one was generated). If you believe it was for you own good to be kept in the dark like that then you are surely a foolish sheep to buy into it. I am glad law enforcement here in the US and Europe isn’t as foolish as you and financially punishes the church’s collective mis-deeds (civil court) and locks up the offending parties (criminal court) to protect our children who where sexually abused. For the church Catholic or otherwise to continue to think they don’t have to inform law enforcement that a crime was committed is arrogant beyond belief.
Quote:
“The Ratzinger letter was CO-SIGNED (meaning like minded in attitude) by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview two years ago in which he hinted at the church’s opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.”
“In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has ADMITTED THE OFFENSE of paedophilia is unfounded,”
Bertone said.
WOW can you believe that. An very high level archbishop would allow a priest admitted child molester off the hook with law enforcement by suppressing those facts to them. It makes me feel warm all over that the church is looking out for an innocent child’s best interests. NOT!!! Remember he said admitted abuse not ALLEGED abuse.
So tell me what would the church do to this offender?
OF course he could be excommunicated by the church when found guilty. (wow can you say slap on the wrist) OR he can be allowed to move to another parish and continue to do his dirty deeds and be later promoted (which has already been documented to happen with many a bishop’s blessing) or maybe do the right thing and really turn him over to civil authorities to stand trial like every one else (cant have that happen, the image of the church would suffer so and the lawsuits would really hurt).
Ah such a dilemma for the Catholic Pope and bishops and all the other religions that don’t like such sexual abuse bad press for there religious officers.
So you religious people who like to visit here and argue BS with me remember the “acts of the church” not what some Latin document says is really most telling. If the church would have done the right things years ago they would have saved face and billions of dollars in payouts. But they rather stand on there superior arrogant convictions that they are above all law but there own and sometimes maybe even there own.
Think about when you leave your child unattended with your local priest (who might be in that 4% see john jay report) and never be sure if he is really safe with him because another parish saw to it to have him moved from that parish to yours to solve there local molestation problem.
Some interesting reading:
http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/ethics/minilist.htm
http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/churchstudy/main.asp

Esau July 17, 2007 at 2:37 pm

for the pope who likes to write latin in such a way to cause confusion and differences of opinion in what a document means when translated
eric razar:
DO you read Latin????
How can you say that the way he writes in Latin causes confusion?
The fact of the matter is that it’s those who are translating his words who are the ones screwing up in the translation.
This is not the Holy Father’s fault!
This is because translating from one language to another is difficult!
Have you read the Bible???
Do you think that what you read there in the English is actually and truly what it says in the original language?

ericrazar July 17, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Esau:
OK Esau enough with the translation nonsense. I was a practicing catholic until 30 years ago(i am 49 now). I even went to sunday school as a kid so yes I read the Bible. No I don’t read Latin.
esau said
“This is not the Holy Father’s fault!”???????????
The 1962 document was originally confidential/secret. right or wrong?? I mean in 1962 not on the internet today. I know they are both posted there today so they been declassified but they weren’t in 1962.
http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Observer/documents/2003/08/16/Criminales.pdf
go look at the link above to see the confidential stamp on the english translation if you really wish to see the “facts”
Read some of the document to see how they want all parties to remain in secret about the allegations.
The POPE wrote the 2001 document!!!! right or wrong?????
He knows what he meant to say!!! right or wrong?????
He could if he wanted to clarify the translation! right or wrong? So you tell me who’s fault is it that a document of that importance to the churches wellbeing isn’t translated correctly? Now use your brain and be objective. Not use your “feelings” I am talking about accountability here to save the church and its image.
Maybe Ratzinger and surely Bertone think its ok to let an abusive priest go and look the other way.
Your ok with that?
right or wrong??????
it is very amusing to me that all of you take little translation snippets but leave the meat of the problem out and that is the church let priest child molesters move from parish to parish un-abatted for over 50 years and not one of you comment that you were bothered by that. EVEN with all the evidence around you and the large settlements recently awarded.
Keep acting like stupid little sheep that you are.

Esau July 17, 2007 at 4:03 pm

Keep acting like stupid little sheep that you are.
Thank you!!!!
Mt 5:11:
11 Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:

Esquire July 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

ericrazar,
You appear to me to be searching for a peace that I doubt you will find by engaging us on this website, but I sincerely hope and pray that you will find it.
God bless.

Brother D. July 17, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Nice try Jimmy to adulterate the facts and try to put your own spin on these HARD FACTS. You should be ashamed of your corrupt hierarchy. They are so far away from God’s plan, it’s disgusting! This Pope is a disgrace, saying that the Roman Church is the only way to heaven. I hope intelligent catholics are being jolted to think about what kind of system they are following!

Esau July 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm

“Nice try Jimmy to adulterate the facts and try to put your own spin on these HARD FACTS. You should be ashamed of your corrupt hierarchy. They are so far away from God’s plan, it’s disgusting! This Pope is a disgrace, saying that the Roman Church is the only way to heaven. I hope intelligent catholics are being jolted to think about what kind of system they are following!”
ANDRE,
FOR THE nTH TIME, YOU HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM THIS BLOG!

Brother D. July 17, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Huh?

ericrazar July 17, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Esquire:
Your right I cant even get an interesting response from any of you. one or two sentence answers that say very little other than blindly follow the leader no matter what they say or do. I guess you all guys need is keep drinking that koolaid to stay happy. I see outrage and you guys see business as usual. The Pope would be proud that you never question his word.

Esau July 18, 2007 at 4:29 pm

On the contrary, I often question the Pope’s word.
However, I do not question Christ’s:
Matthew 23:1-3
1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,
2 Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses.
3 All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not.

Christina July 18, 2007 at 4:33 pm

All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do
Does that tell you to question the Pope’s word?

bill912 July 18, 2007 at 4:35 pm

“Keep acting like the stupid little sheep that you are.”
I’m so in awe of someone with such an incredible combination of intellect and charity!

Esau July 18, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Does that tell you to question the Pope’s word?
That’s the point.

Christina July 18, 2007 at 4:37 pm

You didn’t answer the question.

Esau July 18, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Christina,
How do you interpret the passage:
“All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do”

Christina July 18, 2007 at 4:49 pm

I was asking you, but if you don’t have an answer, that’s ok. You’re still questioning.

Esau July 18, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Huh?

Esquire July 18, 2007 at 5:40 pm

ericrazar,
I do not blindly follow the Holy Father, I do so voluntarily and with my eyes wide open. I pray that you are not judged by the same standard you seem to be applying to him.

Common Sense July 26, 2007 at 4:23 pm

eric r is right.
Just think about this next time you go to church.
http://www.godisimaginary.com/i20.htm

bill912 July 26, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Another intellectual giant!

Patrick July 26, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Let’s just say that the Church has been and is often evil and our enemy, like Judan and Peter himself. Then let’s pray for it and love it, as we should for all people/groups. That is so simple, like God.

Patrick July 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Ops, that is Judas.

bill912 July 26, 2007 at 4:59 pm

No, the Church is the Body of Christ. It is never evil. Some of her members may be evil, and nearly all do not live up to the standards she holds (I’m at the head of that list).

Esquire July 26, 2007 at 7:12 pm

bill912, I was wondering who that was just ahead of me on the list!

Common Sense July 26, 2007 at 9:31 pm

So bill912:
The Church is the Body of Christ and it is never evil? How about the Bible itself? You believe all of it and apply all of it to your every day life? Do you believe the Bible fully and that it is a good book that everyone should follow?

Patrick July 27, 2007 at 7:21 am

“…the Church is the Body of Christ. It is never evil.”
Then we must distinguish between the human institution, which clearly has done institutional evil, and the “other Church” which is “never evil.” If we are all members of the Body of Christ then we are never evil, (how could a part of Christ’s body be evil?) that is also obviously not true.

bill912 July 27, 2007 at 8:12 am

The Church is *not* a human institution; it is a Divine institution that has weak, sinful, human members.

Esau July 27, 2007 at 8:48 am

If we are all members of the Body of Christ then we are never evil
Judas was, in fact, even an Apostle of Jesus Christ yet he committed one of the greatest evils in the history of mankind, which is betraying the very Son of God, which, no doubt, sinners in the Church have done throughout history due to human weakness and the sinful nature of man.
Just because one is a member of the Body of Christ doesn’t automatically make one invincible to sin and impervious to evil.
In fact, Jesus mentions in the Gospels about those who are part of the vine (members of the Body of Christ) yet do not bear good fruit and do not abide in Him (do not persevere in the Faith and keep His Commandments); that these shall be cast into the everlasting fire.

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