Catholic World News News Feature
4.8 million in Italy view BBC documentary on sex abuse June 04, 2007
Close to 5 million Italian viewers watched the May 31 airing of a BBC television documentary on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, broadcast on the Italian state-run RAI network despite strenuous protests by Catholic leaders.
The documentary, entitled “Sex Crimes and the Vatican,” was “clearly biased” and “gravely unfair,” complained Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office.
The program, which had aired in Great Britain last October, focused on the 1961 document Crimen Sollicitationis, dealing with disciplinary action against priests who solicit immoral activity through the confessional. The BBC report argued that by insisting on secrecy in these cases, the Vatican was setting a policy of covering up sex-abuse crimes. Church officials reply that the emphasis on secrecy was designed to protect the confessional seal.
The BBC documentary also emphasized that the 1961 document was released by the Holy Office, later renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noting that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed that office prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican spokesman note in reply that Cardinal Ratzinger was a young theologian teaching in Germany as the time Crimen Sollicitationis was written, and obviously had no hand in its preparation.