The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, January 21, 2011
A 2nd long-secret Vatican letter surfaces telling bishop to withhold records
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, firstname.lastname@example.org)
For the second time this week, an important, long secret Vatican document has surfaced. It tells a bishop, in crystal clear language, to keep information about priests from “civil authority,” especially from lawyers or judges.
We believe that it is perhaps the most clear evidence yet of the Vatican’s disregard for secular laws and authority and its long-suspected practice of telling bishops to keep wrongdoing by clergy hidden.
“The files of a bishop concerning his priests are altogether private; their forced acquisition by civil authority would be an intolerable attack upon the free exercise of religion,” writes a high ranking Catholic official in Rome, Cardinal Silvio Angelo Pio Oddi of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy and the one-time head of the Roman Curia.
Oddi tells the US to “make known immediately . . . that no priest's files will be sent to any lawyer or judge whatever.”
Oddi also instructs the American prelate to let the lawyer for the US church know of this situation “so that all may begin preparing whatever resistance to this request may be necessary” and “we have no doubt that both federal courts and public opinion would sustain us in this position” about the secrecy of priests’ files.
The Vatican letter is written about a troubled priest who was NOT accused of abuse.
Again, we in SNAP believe that this latest revelation is perhaps the most clear evidence yet of the Vatican’s disregard for secular laws and authority and its long-suspected practice of telling bishops to keep wrongdoing by clergy hidden. It’s yet more strong proof of the Vatican’s fixation on secrecy, especially regarding troubled priests, and regardless of what’s required by civil or criminal laws.
(Just days ago, a 1997 letter to Irish bishops from a top Vatican official surfaced. It opposes a proposed policy to require church officials to report known and suspected child sex crimes to police.)
NOTE - The troubled priest in this latest Vatican letter was NOT accused of sexual misdeeds or crimes.
The letter is posted at BishopAccountability.org
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Joelle Casteix (949 322 7434, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vatican letter to Tucson reveals cover-up mentality
By Joseph Picard | January 20, 2011 2:59 PM EST
Earlier this week, an Irish bishop gave a 1997 letter from the Roman Curia to a reporter, which apparently instructed Irish bishops not to cooperate with civil authorities who were probing reported incidents of sexual abuse by priests.
The letter has re-fueled the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that has plagued the Church for decades and calls into question the Vatican's many denials of non-cooperation with civil authorities. The Irish letter has also led some Catholics to call for a halt to the canonization process underway for Pope John Paul II, who was pontiff at the time the letter was written
The 1997 letter is somewhat vague in its wording, although most who have read it agree that the message is clear enough. But the 1984 Vatican letter, released today by BishopAccountability.org, leaves no doubt.
John Paul II was also the pope in 1984.
The Tucson letter was written by Silvio Angelo Pio Cardinal Oddi, who was from 1979 to 1986 Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy - that is, the Curia, which is, together with the Pope, the governing body of the Catholic Church -- and is addressed to Bishop Manuel D. Moreno of Tucson. It was written in response to Moreno's request for guidance in how proceed regarding a badly behaving priest.
After telling Moreno that there was not "any need for engaging in the so called 'due process' procedures," Cardinal Oddi answers Moreno's question: "Should we allow or disallow civil lawyers from obtaining Father's personnel records from our Chancery files?"
"...under no condition whatever ought the afore-mentioned files be surrendered to any lawyer or judge whatsoever." Oddi said "The files of a Bishop concerning his priests are altogether private; their forced acquisition by civil authority would be an intolerable attack upon the free exercise of religion in the United States."
The Curial cardinal goes to say that Moreno should "make known immediately and with clarity that no priest's files will be sent to any lawyer or judge whatever."
"We should be clear and resolute, for failure in this regard might initiate a movement toward a most unfavorable precedent in law and - no less importantly - frighten and upset not a few priests whose files are perhaps less than flattering," Cardinal Oddi concluded.
The priest's name was expunged from the letter by Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org because the priest was not accused of sexual abuse in the letter.
BishopAccountability.org is an online archive of sexual abuse by clergy and cover-up cases throughout the United States.
"Although this priest is not accused of sexual abuse, and his name does not turn up in our database, Cardinal Oddi's letter certainly indicates the Vatican's mentality and its position regarding cooperation with civil authorities," McKiernan said. "The Vatican sees itself as an entity separate from civil authority. It's prohibition against cooperation transcends the sexual abuse issue."
There are two hand-written comments on the letter. McKiernan said they were written by Pio Cardinal Laghi, who was the Vatican's Apostolic Delegate/Pro-Nuncio to the U.S. from 1980 to 1990.
The note on the first page reads, "servet in exemplum." McKiernan explained that the words mean "let it serve as an example" and indicate that the letter was meant to be taken as a policy document.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests