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Danish paper ripped bishop, ignored law that required silence

Catholic World News - June 04, 2010

Editor's note: The story below is a corrected version of a story that first appeared on June 4. After the original story appeared, CWN learned that the Danish newspaper story on which our report was based had been highly distorted, ignoring an important-- albeit strange-- provision of Danish law that explains the bishop's conduct. We apologize for the inaccuracy of the original CWN report. The story below corrects our errors.]

A Danish newspaper has charged that Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen allowed a priest to continue in ministry despite a 2005 conviction on child pornography charges. The story neglects to mention that because of an odd feature in Danish law, the priest's conviction was secret, and the bishop did not learn about it until recently.

The priest, who was convicted of downloading and paying for 38 movies, was fined 6,000 kroner ($983 under the current exchange rate). But neither the conviction nor the penalty was made public; police and court officials were bound by law to remain silent about the crime. When the matter came to the attention of Bishop Kozon, as the result of recent investigations into sexual misconduct among the clergy, the priest was promptly suspended.

The Danish newspaper, Politiken, also charged that after Bishop Kozon recently suspended the priest, he did not tell the parish council about the conviction. While this was true, there was a simple explanation: the bishop felt bound by the law's provision that the conviction should remain secret. (The bishop did inform the head of the parish council.)

A spokesman for the diocese said that he did not know how the priest's conviction came to the attention of the press.

Copenhagen is the nation’s sole diocese; only 0.6% of the nation’s 5.4 million people are Catholic.

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