Vatican papers spark debate
Title: Vatican papers spark debate: Clergy abuse protocol noted
Author: Kathleen A. Shaw
Publication: Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER— The 1962 Vatican document called Crimen Sollicitationis that first surfaced in Worcester two years ago has made its way around the world, causing controversy and sparking debate on whether the Roman Catholic hierarchy intended this document as a plan to hush up sexual abuse of children.
The name is taken from the first words of the original Latin version, which mean “crime of solicitation.” It outlines procedures to be followed when a priest is accused of sexual abuse. Houston lawyer Daniel J. Shea said the document is relevant because it shows that the church hierarchy has conspired to keep quiet child abuse.
Reading through the Crimen protocol for handling abuse cases, Mr. Shea said, it is evident that the intent is to absolve the offending priest and send him on what the document calls a “pious pilgrimage” but what he called a “vacation,” and to shut up the complainant.
He and other civil lawyers in this country are also introducing the document into lawsuits in an attempt to show that an international conspiracy is involved in covering up abuse by priests.
He went to the gates of the Vatican two weeks ago to press his argument that Pope Benedict XVI has actively conspired to keep cases of clergy sexual abuse under wraps. He bases his claim on the Crimen document and a letter that the pope wrote in 2001, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, instructing church officials on how to handle these cases. Crimen was footnoted in the 2001 document.
Crimen Sollicitationis has also shown up in Louisville, Ky., where the Vatican has been named in a lawsuit filed by men alleging clergy sexual abuse.
Mr. Shea, who also practices in Massachusetts, settled several sexual abuse cases in Worcester Superior Court, but has named the pope in a lawsuit he is handling for three men in the Houston area who said they were sexually abused by a priest there who later fled back to his native Latin America.
Crimen was introduced into a court suit in Springfield brought by Jane Martin, who said she was sexually abused as a child by the Rev. Robert E. Kelley, a priest of the Worcester Diocese. The judge did not allow introduction of the document because it had not been authenticated and was not seen as being relevant.
Mr. Shea’s campaign has attracted public notice. Articles about his quest have appeared in newspapers in Britain, Ireland, Italy and the United States.
The Rev. Thomas Doyle, the canon lawyer who first called attention to the burgeoning sexual abuse scandal in the church in the mid-1980s, said he understands that an even earlier document dealt with how to handle clergy sexual abuse issues, but he has been unable to find the entire document. Dated June 8, 1922, it is written in Latin and called “De modo procedendi in causis sollicitationis.”
For more information visit: https://www.snapnetwork.org/news/vatican/vatican_papers_spark_debate.htm