Yesterday I mentioned the discovery of a “smoking gun” in the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal: a 1997 letter to Ireland’s bishops from the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, described as “Pope John Paul II’s diplomat to Ireland. ” Storero’s letter instructed the bishops not to report sexual abuse cases to secular authorities, but to keep it in the Church. Yesterday I couldn’t find the letter online, but alert reader Hempenstein did (it’s available here as a pdf file). Click to enlarge:
And why shouldn’t the bishops report abuse to Irish authorities? The real reason, of course, is because it’s terribly damaging to the Church and its authority. But the letter says this: “The text, however, contains ‘procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the acts of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.”
Translation: Don’t report child abuse to nonreligious authorities because it might result in your being embarrassed at the Vatican; and it could even hurt your career.
If we use Sam Harris’s moral calculus here, the Vatican is weighing the well-being of abused children against potential embarrassment and career damage to priests and bishops, and the Holy See decided that the scales weigh heavier for the latter. And that’s immoral.
What strikes me is that both Catholic and accommodationist bloggers (at least the ones I read—excluding Andrew Sullivan), often the first to decry discrimination against women and minorities, are strangely silent on what the Church has done to children, and on how the cover-up reaches to the highest level of the Vatican.