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SEX ABUSE BY ROMAN CATHOLIC CLERGY

Viewer response to the BBC program
"Sex crimes and the Vatican"

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The program "Sex crimes and the Vatican" was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on 2006-OCT-01. 1 They have placed the complete transcript of the program online. 2

Some of the viewers' responses were fascinating. We have converted English spelling to American because over 90% of our visitors are from the U.S. The licenses referred to are fees paid by owners of TV sets in the UK:

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Chris Sands, Harwich, Essex
"This is really sloppy journalism. This document has been in the public domain since 2001. It was secret, it hasn't been for 5 years. The Catholic Church is doing a lot and doing it publicly to deal with the pedophile priests. We all know the BBC has an anti-Catholic agenda and goes out of it's way to denigrate the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict, but I would have thought that License payers money could have been better spent elsewhere."

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David Armitage, Switzerland
Either Catholic Bishops the world over spontaneously hit on identical policies of shuffling pedophiles around and enforcing strict silence and cover up or they were implementing official policy.

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Art Lathrop, Oakland, California
You got it exactly right. This scandal is not about pedophile priests, but about the conspiracy of silence and cover-up among the hierarchy that led to thousands of additional children being hurt. This cover-up continues to this day. What a shame that the Church is more concerned about protecting its precious reputation than protecting its children.

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Andrew Mooney, Malvern
The most disturbing aspect of this program was the failure of senior officials of The Vatican to respond to requests to be interviewed and present their 'defense'. The document 'Crimen Sollicitationis' hasn't been summoned out of thin air by the BBC! The testimony of survivors of abuse was moving, as was that of high-ranking Catholic officials who resigned or left the Church in disgust at having to implement this protocol. Once again, the BBC and Panorama have shown themselves to be fearless in challenging rich and powerful interest groups. Regardless of whether the rich and powerful are individuals, state agencies or religious groupings - there is no right to automatic deference....and the role of the BBC is to ask painful and difficult questions.

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Richard Price, UK
I was amazed at the one-sidedness of the program. Nothing at all was said about the attempt of the Catholic Church for several years now to improve its act on sex abuse. And the attempt to inculpate the present pope was contrived in the extreme: no evidence was presented of his activity in this area, and the 'key' document presented was both issued long before his time and turned out to be about soliciting in the confessional, a very particular crime that is rare even in cases of sexual abuse. The BBC used to have a reputation for balanced reporting; how sad that it is ready to sacrifice this in quest of sensationalism.

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Philip Drake, Glasgow
I knew nothing about Crimen Sollicitationis before seeing your program. I have now read the document on this site. I have rarely seen a document so deceitfully and maliciously misinterpreted as in your program and in your comment on this site. This is quite a clearly a document relating to ecclesiastical court proceedings regarding priests soliciting penitents in confession. Most of the document clearly assumes most of these penitents to be adult. The soliciting is interpreted so widely as to include incidents that might not even be criminal in secular legal terms. The document does in fact mention minors (and also, surprisingly, animals) but this is certainly not a document designed to cover up child sex abuse as you have charged. Shame on you for such deception and for the abandonment of responsible journalism. I should state that I abhor any sinful / criminal molestation of children and consider that such cases should immediately be reported to the police. It is a scandal that such incidents have been handled so badly by church authorities in many countries over so many years. I am also aware that secular authorities up to government level have in the past handled such incidents in a similarly secret and scandalous manner. The gravest penalties should be incurred by either church or secular authorities for such abuse of authority. But this does not mean that you as a public broadcasting agency should resort to such irresponsible, incompetent and malicious reporting.

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Bernard Greaves, Carlisle
I am disgusted by the unprofessional, one-sided presentation in the Panorama program Sex Crimes and the Vatican. Every one of the contributors took the same anti-Vatican stance. Not a single voice was allowed to be heard to put a different standpoint. I am sure that the documents quoted deserve more careful scrutiny than the presentation gave them. The few severely edited quotations give entirely the wrong impression of these very serious documents. Once again the BBC makes clear its virulent anti-Catholic stance.

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Frank Cloney, Ferndown, England
I congratulate you on a true and forthright Panorama program last evening. The only item left unsaid was to give the numbers of the unfortunate abused who have since committed suicide. Until the Catholic Church faces this Cancer full head on and deals with it in a forthright way all Catholic Clergy will be tainted. Please carry on the good work and stand steadfast against those who wish to brush these atrocities under the carpet of secrecy.

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K.T. Iggulden, Manchester, Lancashire
Whatever happened to the famous evenhandedness of the BBC? Colm O'Gorman is entitled to his anger /grievance in view of his horrible experience as a 14yr-old but did nobody at the BBC spot how unbalanced this program was? If the bulk of this program had been published 3-4 yrs ago, it might have been relevant but everything has moved on since then. Have the BBC not heard of the Nolan Report? Every diocese that I know of has strict Child Protection programs and a named Child Protection officer in every parish. But the main problem with this Panorama is the treatment of the Vatican document 'Crimen S.' dealing with the sacrilege of soliciting for sex in the context of the confessional. The church has the right to regulate the sacraments but this is a domestic issue and the civil law is not involved unless a crime is committed. It is quite a separate issue from child sex abuse which does indeed concern the civil authorities. Panorama managed to confuse the two issues - giving us glimpses of an obscure Latin document with phrases lifted out of context for translation -all with the sole purpose it would seem of implying that the Pope was involved in a big cover-up! Why was nobody allowed to speak for the Vatican or the bishops ?- except for one or two disaffected clergy who seem to be equally out of touch with developments in Child Protection in the Catholic Church. I find this attempt to smear the whole church very offensive - no mention is made of the priests who have been cleared of false allegations but whose lives have been ruined. Of course we are shocked at the crimes of people- whether priests or others - whom Jesus said deserved to be drowned with a millstone round their necks!- but please be fair to the rest of us!

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Roger du Bois, Holt, Norfolk
It is no surprise that there has been a quick response from the Catholic Church following the Panorama program. Perhaps Archbishop Nichols would also like to respond to the allegation of Priests being moved to the Vatican to escape prosecution for offences committed in their home countries and the return of unopened correspondence from judges?

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Laura Macleod, Oxford
I am not surprised that there is an outcry this morning from the Catholic Church regarding last night's program on child abuse within the church and the cover up. Well done to Panorama for doing this program and being brave enough to open the box of worms within the ugly underworld of the Vatican. How dare any priest be protected by this power who has abused children and taken advantage of his position in society. Another reason why organized religion is so flawed. A brave and good stand by Panorama. It needed to be said.

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Stephen, Kilwinning Ayrshire
The program on the Vatican and pedophile priests confused many issues. In 1962 when Crimen Solic.. was released for bishops, very few agencies worldwide had child protection policies of any kind. The Vatican was at that time concerned to keep issues discussed in the confessional sacred, and to punish those priests who abused the seal of confession for their evil purposes. In more recent years the Church's social work, especially in the care of children, has suffered because of both the scandal of child abuse and the ferocious spotlight of sections of the media hostile to Catholicism. This program gave no opportunity to the Church in England to explain how it has implemented the Nolan report and how far it now goes to prevent any form of sex abuse by anyone employed by the Church. The result was a deeply offensive and unbalanced program which will do very little to help the victims of abuse.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
 
  1. "Sex crimes and the Vatican" Panorama, BBC One, 2006-SEP-29, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

  2. Transcript of the program is at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

  3. "Discuss Panorama," BBC, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/ This is expected to be a temporary listing.

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Site navigation:

 Home > Religious Info. > Basic info > Child abuse > Crimen Sollicitatiois here

Home > Religious Violence > Child abuse > Crimen Sollicitatiois > here

Home > Christianity > Roman Catholicism > Child abuse > Crimen Sollicitatiois > here

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Copyright 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-OCT-08 
Latest update: 2006-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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