Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cardinal Pell, contra Mr. Hitchens, on sexual abuse

His Eminence The Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney has a good opinion piece in today's edition of The Australian. Here's an excerpt:

In 2001, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, [H.H. The Pope] issued an instruction to all bishops requiring them to refer allegations of pedophilia against priests to the congregation for investigation. It is frequently claimed that this 2001 instruction required bishops to treat these allegations with total secrecy and not inform the police, under penalty of excommunication.

This claim was repeated in The Australian on March 18 by Christopher Hitchens. Referring to the 2001 instruction, Hitchens wrote: "The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated `in the most secretive way restrained by a perpetual silence and everyone is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office under the penalty of excommunication'."

However, the letter Ratzinger issued in 2001 made no reference to excommunication. The words Hitchens quotes are taken from an earlier letter from the Holy See on this matter, issued in 1962, which was superseded by the 2001 document.

I received the 2001 letter soon after I became Archbishop of Sydney. Five years earlier I had established an independent commission, headed by Peter O'Callaghan QC, to investigate complaints of abuse in the archdiocese of Melbourne.

I was not excommunicated and neither were the other bishops when they set up the Towards Healing process soon afterwards.

[my square-bracketed interpolation]
Reginaldvs Cantvar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

of interest: