Church’s culture of secrecy
Sexual abuse is rooted in abuse of power, which is very often the first step.
While abuse of power can take many forms, many abusers rely on the excessive and, let’s say it, clericalist use of secrecy.
For decades many Church bodies, including the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, have repeatedly called for removing the pontifical secret.
On December 17, 2019, Pope Francis finally lifted it for cases of sexual violence and abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy.
Nevertheless, this is just one step.
A culture of secrecy still exists in the Church, for reasons not always justified and or even healthy.
This culture continues to contribute to authoritarianism, clericalism and patriarchalism – all attitudes deeply disrespectful of equality among the baptized.
We can cite three examples.
We know today, without yet knowing all the twists and turns, the journey of the text Crimen sollicitationis, aimed at setting up procedures to respond to the case where a cleric solicits sexual favors in the context of confession.
The issue was explosive. The Church first addressed it in 1741 and included it in the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
But the text explaining the procedure to be followed in case of the crime of solicitation , which gave its name to this document, was published for the first time in 1922.
Yet it remained secret. We only learned of its existence in 1962!