Friday, March 26, 2010

Two items from yesterday's Vatican Information Service e-mail bulletin: One on the Murphy case, the other on a new resource at the Vatican home-page

The first one balances what you'll read in mainstream media news items today on the appalling case of a priest who is accused of molesting some two hundred deaf children, and which (the case, that is) was (much) later referred to the Sacred C.D.F. when H.H. The Pope was its Prefect:

VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the English-language declaration made yesterday, 24 March, by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. to the New York Times:

"The tragic case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a priest of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did. By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Fr. Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him.

"During the mid-1970s, some of Fr. Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some twenty years later.

"It has been suggested that a relationship exists between the application of 'Crimen sollicitationis' and the non-reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in this case. In fact, there is no such relationship. Indeed, contrary to some statements that have circulated in the press, neither 'Crimen' nor the Code of Canon Law ever prohibited the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.

"In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr. Murphy.

"In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. In light of the facts that Fr. Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr. Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr. Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr. Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident".

[Msgr. Magee's statement, which does not deal with the Murphy case, follows.]
[My square-bracketed interpolation]
The second item alerts us to a very valuable resource which is now available, and for free, at the Vatican's home-page:


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In a communique released today the Holy See Press Office announced the online publication of the official acts of the Holy See and of the collection of documents from the period of World War II.

"Important texts that until now have only been available in hard copy in libraries are now accessible at the Official Site of the Holy See, in the "Resource Library" section.

"Entire collections of the 'Actae Sanctae Sedis (A.S.S.)' and of the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.)' - i.e., the official Acts of the Holy See from 1865 to 2007 - are available in pdf format, as is the twelve-volume collection of the 'Actes et documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale', published by order of Paul VI starting in 1965, and edited by a specialised group of four Jesuit historians.

"These texts represent a documentary resource of inestimable value that is now at the disposal of scholars and all interested persons, free of charge. It is a great contribution to research and information on the history and activities of the Holy See".

I don't want to sound ungrateful--I am certainly very pleased that this resource is now so easily accessible--but I wish that the A.S.S. entries for the entire Pontificate of Bl. Pius IX had been posted; the propositions which make up the Syllabus of Errors, published in 1864, were extracted from various Acts of His late Holiness; some of those Acts--some Encyclicals, for instance--are available on-line, but most are not.

Reginaldvs Cantvar


Cardinal Pole said...

The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry "Acta Sanctæ Sedis" says:

"[The A.S.S.] was begun in 1865, under the title of "Acta Sanctæ Sedis in compendium redacta etc.", and was declared, 23 May, 1904, an organ of the Holy See to the extent that all documents printed in it are "authentic and official"."

So A.S.S. entries for the entire Pontificate of Bl. Pius IX could not have been posted, since, for the first part of that period, the A.S.S. did not exist! Surely there was some kind of predecessor publication which performed the same function as the A.S.S., though?

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