Religion News Service is reporting on the secrecy that shrouds the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases. Many of us know that secrecy is par for the course in what passes for “judicial proceedings” in the Vatican, but here are some findings by RNS reporter Daniel Burke that struck me:
“Participants in church sex abuse trials are bound by oath not to divulge details about the proceedings, or at what stage the case is; not even victims and accused priests are kept apprised…
Even when the trials and appeals are over, participants are not allowed to talk about them. "It's canon law," said the Rev. John Beal, a canon law expert at Catholic University in Washington. ‘But it's a stupid law.’”
It’s refreshing to hear a canon lawyer be so candid.
But there’s more:
“Even reading about the secret trials can be a canonical crime. In 2008, after the Rev. Gerald Vosen, an accused Wisconsin priest, wrote about his experience in a book, the local bishop told Catholics "to destroy the book or return it."
That’s enough to make people I know go out and buy extra copies!
At one point, Daniel Burke notes, “For the hundreds of Americans who have lodged abuse claims, and many priests who have denied accusations, the Vatican's modus operandi can be a jarring contrast to the relatively open criminal justice system in the U.S.”
That’s to put it mildly. We need an overhaul of the “justice” system in the Church.