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Irish TV show charges Vatican urged bishops to keep silent on abuse

CWN - January 17, 2011

An Irish television documentary, scheduled to be aired on Monday evening, January 17, will report that a leading Vatican official discouraged Irish bishops from reporting priestly abuse to law-enforcement officials.

The “Would You Believe” program, broadcast on the RTE network, quotes Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the former prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, as telling Irish bishops that they should be “fathers to your priests, not policemen.”

Advance publicity about the RTE program included some confused reporting. Accused priests have the right under canon law to appeal to the Vatican if their bishops seek to laicize them; the Irish Examiner and Irish Times claim that the Vatican failed to enforce the provisions of canon law in several cases, when in fact the Vatican was insisting on observing the canons. The Irish Times adds an inaccurate report that in 2005 Pope Benedict failed to enforce canon law in the case of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ—who was in fact removed from public ministry on the Pope’s initiative.

Nevertheless, the RTE program promises to shed new light on tensions between the Irish episcopate and the Vatican, and on the split among Vatican officials over the proper treatment of sex-abuse complaints.

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