Posted by AssurHaddon from dialup-188.8.131.52.Dial1.LosAngeles1.Level3.net (184.108.40.206) on Saturday, August 16, 2003 at 10:11PM :
Vatican 'told its bishops to cover up cases of sex abuse'
CATHOLIC bishops around the world were told by the Vatican to cover up cases of sexual abuse or face being thrown out of the Church, according to newly revealed secret documents.
The instructions, contained in 40-year-old papers, have been unearthed from the secret Vatican archive and have been described by lawyers as a "blueprint for deception and concealment".
The document, bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII, was sent to every bishop and outlines a policy of the "strictest" secrecy when dealing with sex abuse allegations. It threatens those who speak out with excommunication.
Victims of abuse should take an oath of secrecy when making a complaint to Church officials, it adds.
The paper, uncovered by Texan lawyer Daniel Shea as part of his work for victims of abuse by Catholic priests in the US, has been confirmed as genuine by the Roman Catholic Church.
The document focuses on sexual abuse initiated as part of the confessional relationship between a priest and a member of his congregation. However, it also covers what it refers to as the "worst crime", namely an obscene act perpetrated by a cleric with "youths of either sex or with brute animals".
Shea said: "These instructions prove there was an international conspiracy by the Church to hush up sexual abuse issues. It is a devious attempt to conceal criminal conduct and is a blueprint for deception and concealment."
Richard Scorer, a British lawyer acting for children abused by Catholic priests in the UK, described the document as "explosive". He added: "We always suspected that the Catholic Church systematically covered up abuse and tried to silence victims. This document appears to prove it."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in England and Wales denied the document was part of an organised cover-up. He said lawyers were taking the instructions "out of context".
He added: "The document is about the Church’s internal disciplinary procedures should a priest be accused of using confession to solicit sex.
"It does not forbid victims to report civil crimes. The confidentiality talked about is aimed to protect the accused as applies in court procedures today."
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