(AP) - The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement late Friday noting that the Munich vicar-general who approved the priest's transfer had taken "full responsibility" for the decision, seeking to remove any question about the pontiff's potential responsibility as archbishop at the time.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The pope is innocent, plain and simple. That is the fact. If SNAP really cared about getting justice for the victims they claim to represent, they would go after the abuser and the man who has ALREADY ADMITTED to transferring the pervert priest without Archbishop Ratzinger's knowledge. The problem surrounding Archbishop Ratzinger was similar (but in this case much smaller) to the problem surrounding Cardinal Law and many others, wherein underlings made executive decisions without the bishop's knowledge in a misguided attempt to shield the bishop from scandal and perhaps even protect the abuser in the process.
Victims advocates weren't persuaded.
"We find it extraordinarily hard to believe that Ratzinger didn't reassign the predator, or know about the reassignment," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The pope, meanwhile, continues to be under fire for a 2001 Vatican letter he sent to all bishops advising them that all cases of sexual abuse of minors must be forwarded to his then-office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that the cases were to be subject to pontifical secret.
Germany's justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has cited the document as evidence that the Vatican created a "wall of silence" around abuse cases that prevented prosecution. Irish bishops have said the document had been "widely misunderstood" by the bishops themselves to mean they shouldn't go to police. And lawyers for abuse victims in the United States have cited the document in arguing that the Catholic Church tried to obstruct justice.
But canon lawyers insisted Friday that there was nothing in the document that would preclude bishops from fulfilling their moral and civic duties of going to police when confronted with a case of child abuse.
They stressed that the document merely concerned procedures for handling the church trial of an accused priest, and that the secrecy required by Rome for that hearing by no means extended to a ban on reporting such crimes to civil authorities.
"Canon law concerning grave crimes ... doesn't in any way interfere with or diminish the obligations of the faithful to civil laws," said Monsignor Davide Cito, a professor of canon law at Rome's Santa Croce University....
read full story here
As for the Vatican document requiring secrecy, any layman with a novice understanding of canon law knows these laws apply to activities WITHIN the CHURCH. They do not extend to civil law. It's not rocket science people. For any member of the clergy to claim that he thought Cardinal Ratzinger's letter extended to anything more than conduct WITHIN the Church is an insult and a lame excuse. It's lame because there is no way any member of the clergy could honestly believe that - unless he's an idiot. It's an insult because he dares to expect others to believe it.
As news unfolds about the growing sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Europe let us keep in mind the lessons learned from the Catholic sex-abuse scandal in the Anglophone world, particularly in the United States.
First, the media salivates over things like this, and frequently uses bad news for selfish reasons. They're notorious for hyping and pumping these stories to increase their ratings. Sex sells, as they say in the advertising world, and it's no different in the news media. Sexual scandals mean money - lots of money - for those who report them, and it is in their interest to make the scandal appear as large as possible, and as far-reaching as possible, because that's what sells newspapers and gets people to watch news broadcasts. It's a money thing and we should not forget that. This is why you will almost never hear or read about the actual statistics of those involved in sex-abuse scandals, because if the actual ratio were reported it would quickly be discovered that sex-abuse is actually much higher in non-religious institutions.
Second, once the dust settles, the media hype is over, and the damage to public image is done, the actual numerical statistics will start to come in. What they will find in Europe will probably be similar to what was found in the United States and the rest of the Anglophone world. The actual number of sex-abusing perverts (and those who protect them) is around 5% or less of all clerics in the Church. This means two things. The statistical number of perverts in the Church is almost half of the statistical number found in other public service sectors. For example, the statistical number of perverts in the United States public school systems is around 10%. The same goes for the daycare industry as well as public clubs such as boyscouts and various sports. So in actuality, while there is always room for improvement, the Church is actually doing a better job filtering out perverts than the secular world. Don't expect to hear this reported by the news media though. That wouldn't sell many papers. The second thing this means, and we must never forget this, if about 5% or less of the clergy are involved in this disgusting activity, then that simultaneously means 95% or more of the clergy are not involved in it. These are your good priests, bishops and clerics of all sorts who are doing their jobs correctly. They cannot be made to suffer for the crimes of the tiny minority. Statistically speaking there is at the very least a 95% chance that the average parish priest is a good priest. That's the story typically lost in these scandals.
Third, while it is true the Church needs to do a lot more to filter out the perverts and report them once they're known, the same could be said of any religious organization, and even more so for non-religious organizations.
Fourth and finally, these types of scandals tend to bring out the worst kinds of anti-Catholics. First you have the opportunists. These are those who see an opportunity to make some easy money. They may be alleged abuse victims, or lawyers working on their behalf, or organizations claiming to represent their interests. Then of course there are those who would like to use the government to persecute the Church by stripping her of her rights. Then finally there are those who already hate the Church, for one reason or another, and will endlessly use this latest scandal in their arsenal of negative propaganda to dish out against Catholics at every opportunity they get.
What's important to remember are the facts. Sexual abuse is a problem that effects all of western civilization, not just the Church. This includes cover-up. Both sex-abuse and cover-up are actually much higher in non-religious institutions, especially the public schools. Sorry that's just a statistical FACT. Look it up. People can try to scapegoat the Catholic Church all they want, and of course they will, because it's been going on ever since the Church's founder (Jesus Christ) was scapegoated for every social problem that plagued Judea two-thousand years ago. It's human nature to scapegoat, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problem. What's important for Catholics to remember is that sex-abuse and cover-up is a civilization wide social problem. It affects all social institutions of which the Church is no exception. Simultaneously the Church is NOT the source of the problem either. It's a problem that all institutions must look into, and while the Church does tend to do a better job filtering out the perverts than non-religious institutions, everyone needs to work harder.