In an article he has written for 'The Australian' today – which begins with the uncompromising statement that ‘The evil of sexual abuse has no place in the Catholic Church’ – Cardinal Pell of Sydney hits back at the Holy Father’s critics; and makes the entirely proper comment that ‘This issue is too sad and too serious for misinformation to be circulated, adding to victims’ pain.’
In this context he cites Christopher Hitchens, who recently alleged that in 2001 the then Cardinal Ratzinger issued an Instruction to Bishops compelling absolute and perpetual secrecy in respect of sexual abuse allegations.
Unfortunately for him, the wording that Mr Hitchens quotes came from an Instruction issued by the Holy Office in 1962, which was superseded by the 2001 Instruction.
In fact the 2001 Instruction required all bishops ‘to refer allegations of pedophilia against priests to the congregation for investigation’, and an authoritative source quoted by the Cardinal makes it clear that the Holy Father’s handling of such allegations when he was head of the Congregation ‘displayed great wisdom and firmness’, and that he did so ‘without respect for persons or rank’.
His Eminence also points out – again, undermining Mr Hitchens’ claim – that ‘victims are always encouraged to go to the police. That is what we would prefer. But victims often value their privacy.’
It’s not a diatribe, rather a thoughtful and compelling piece which should – if people actually bother to read it – set at least some of the most widespread misconceptions straight.
I do encourage you to read it, and persuade others to do so.