Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/6/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The answer literally dates back to centuries of decrees.

In the wake of the UN report on child sex abuse cover up in the Church, many people are asking why is it that is sacred institution, tasked with leading souls to salvation, and granted the highest moral authority on the planet, would it do everything it possibly could to protect children?

A fateful decree by Pope Pius XI in 1922 unexpectedly set the stage for the child abuse scandals of the following decades.

A fateful decree by Pope Pius XI in 1922 unexpectedly set the stage for the child abuse scandals of the following decades.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/6/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: child sex abuse, vatican, papal decree, cover up, scandal, Puis XI


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For most people, why the Church would seemingly cover up the criminal behavior of abusive priests and clergy remains an enduring mystery - and a scandal! It simply makes no sense that the one institution on the planet, with the highest moral authority investment, would do so little to discipline those who abuse children.

For the past century, some priests have largely gone unpunished for their crimes against children, protected by which should be the world's most trusted institution. Yet since the 1980s and 90s, case after case surfaced that demonstrated the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, meaning its bishops and archbishops, had knowledge of predatory priests, and instead of reporting those priests to the civil authorities, seemed to cover up the crimes and either fire the priests, shuffle them off to seclusion and treatment, or in the worst cases, sent them to other parishes where they continued to abuse children.

Please pray for the victims of abuse in the Church.

Only in rare cases, were the priests actually handed over and prosecuted by the civil authorities. Why was this so?

The answer apparently goes all the way back to Vatican City, and a special decree issued by Pope Pius XI in 1922. That decree reinforced 1,500 years of previous papal decrees upholding what is known as the "privilege of clergy." The term "privilege" in legal parlance does not refer to special treatment but to a concept within the law of evidence.

Privilege of clergy is a church policy first establish in the fourth century. It holds that the clergy of the Church, when accused of crime, should be disciplined within the Church, rather than by civil institutions.The Church has a Code of Canon Law and a judicial process, including penalties, rules of evidence, and trials established within her - as a part of her internal government as a society in her own right. 

This privilege of clergy was eventually dismissed in 1917 with the first Code of Canon Law in the church. Canon Law published at that time decreed that priests were to be handed over to civil authorities if they broke civil laws. Specifically it stated that, child sex abusers were to be handed over to the courts.

In response to this, Pope Pius XI issued a decree in 1922 that effectively imposed a veil of confidentiality over any allegations of child sex abuse against the clergy, pending proper procedural  review. That decree has remained in effect since then. We now know what the unintended end result of that decree was in these awful and evil accounts we have heard about or read about.

This helps us make sense of why some high-ranking bishops, and even cardinals of the church, would seem to do all they could to keep child abusers away from civil prosecution. It's not that they  had sympathy with the abusers, or feared embarrassment, but rather they felt they had a higher loyalty to the direction of the church and that, as a juridic authority in its own riight, the Church would handle such allegations of what is an intrinsically evil action.

In recent years, Church policy has been definitively changed to address this precise issue. The papal decree issued by Pope Pius XI 1922 was not issued under any interpretation of papal infallibility. It was a procedural directive intended to keep the matter in the legal system of the Church for prosecution. This is a blatant case of a Pope issuing a decree that in hindsight was infinitely fallible. Although Pope Pius may have intended to preserve the Church of his day from secular abuses, given that the Church faced unique threats from unfriendly government and secular institutions, the decree became obsolete in the years following its issue.

Unfortunately, until now, nobody has bothered to revisit the decree.

Hopefully now, between the joint efforts of Popes Benedict and Francis, that will change, forever. After all, it must, we expect it to, and now.

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Europe

Vatican Bank expands its profits 20 times over after period of scandal Watch

Image of The pontiff has made reforming the bank, accused of financial skulduggery, one of the priorities of his papacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Bank, just a few short years ago was plagued with scandal and intrigue. Ordered by Pope Francis to clean up its act in late 2013, the Vatican Bank has bounced back - to the tune of doing 20 times as well as it had done previously. An upside is ... continue reading


Pope canonizes first Arabic-speaking saints in church's history Watch

Image of Sister Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, born in Jerusalem in 1847, opened girls' schools, fought female illiteracy and co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was seen as a gesture of goodwill to Christians living in the Middle East. Pope Francis described Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as an "angel of peace" before canonizing two 19th century nuns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sisters Mariam Bawardy and ... continue reading


Israel incensed as the Vatican recognizes the state of Palestine Watch

Image of Both the United States and Israel oppose recognition, arguing that it undermines U.S.-led efforts to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian deal on the terms of Palestinian statehood.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The decision is an extremely unpopular one for Israel - the Vatican has recognized the State of Palestine in a new treaty. The treaty concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory. It's a dramatic demonstration of the turnaround in the ... continue reading


Grandfather transforms three-bedroom home into stunning replica of Sistine Chapel Watch

Image of It took Robert Burns three times as long to complete his work as it took painter Michelangelo to complete his masterpiece in Rome.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It took 12 long years, but Robert Burns of Brighton, England has finally completed his dream project of turning his three-bedroom home into a replica of the Sistine Chapel. The 67-year-old former interior decorator was inspired by Renaissance painters and ... continue reading


Is the Holy See taking action against Medjugorje?

Image of

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Christians who are familiar with the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, might be interested in the following developments. Although a definitive judgment has yet to be announced by the Church-a commission formed by the ... continue reading


Venus de Milo - a prostitute? New evidence offers intriguing new theories Watch

Image of A San Francisco-based designer has recreated the sculpture as a spinner, which was a pursuit popular with idle prostitutes in ancient Greece.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sometimes what is missing fills in an otherwise incomplete story. There is new evidence suggesting that the model for the famous Venus de Milo statue may have been a prostitute. A new 3-D reconstruction suggests that the statue was spinning yarn in the manner ... continue reading


The mystery behind 'the Devil's Bible': Europe's largest surviving manuscript Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Europe's largest surviving manuscript, the Codex Gigas, is commonly referred to as "the Devil's Bible' by many who are left baffled by the mysterious text. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The manuscript, held in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, is ... continue reading


Fatima prophecies 'lift veil' on anti-Christian persecution today, Vatican cardinal says Watch

Image of The Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, and confided in them three secrets. Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the visionaries, wrote them down years later.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The "secrets" of Our Lady of Fatima tell of today's Christian persecution, in addition to the martyrdom of the past century, Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Vatican has declared. The cardinal had "the privilege" of reading the original manuscripts of the secrets of ... continue reading


Malfunctioned fair ride leaves terrified passengers suspended at 200 feet Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thrill seekers were left hanging upside down on a fairground ride in Holland for almost an hour. The group consisting of seven riders, were riding the "Booster" ride at a spring fair in Didam, Netherlands. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) -The local newspaper, ... continue reading


Fears regarding Pope Francis' health resurface after he says he is 'a bit old and sick' Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Telling parishioners he is "a bit old and a bit sick," new fears for the health of Pope Francis have resurfaced. The pope asked a group of elderly and disabled people to pray for him, warning that he was also suffering from heath problems. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 36:5-6, 10-17
5 Send new portents, do fresh wonders, win glory for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
8 Do not count against us the guilt of former ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:32-45
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 27th, 2015 Image

St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 27: At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter