Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Life in Italy [English-language newspaper]

(ANSA) - A BBC documentary on the sexual
abuse of children by Catholic priests was "biased" and
"unfair", a Vatican spokesman said a day after the film was
shown on Italian television.
The documentary, called Sex Crimes and the Vatican, was
shown during a talk-show on the RAI state broadcaster's
second channel. After weeks of polemics over the decision to
transmit the film, it was watched by some 4.8 million people.
"The documentary deals with dramatic material from a
clearly biased viewpoint," Vatican spokesman Father Federico
Lombardi said.
"It becomes seriously unfair when it makes criticisms of
the motivations behind Church documents, whose nature and
goals are misrepresented, and when it focuses on the figure
of Cardinal Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI".
The BBC documentary examines what it describes as secret
Vatican documents that it says were a sort of "blueprint for
cover-ups" of sexual abuse of children by priests.
A leading Italian prelate was in the RAI studio on
Thursday night to give the Catholic Church's viewpoint on the
film, which has also been broadcast in six other countries.
Its maker, an Irish reporter who was raped by a priest when
he was 14, was also in the studio.
One of the key documents referred to, written in 1962,
was Crimen Sollicitationis, which covers the Church's
internal discipline for priests accused of sexual misconduct,
including abuse of minors.
The document, which emphasises the confidentiality of
canonical trials, amounts to a system which aims to conceal
evidence of abuse, according to the BBC documentary.
The film's authors note that the rules in the document
were enforced for 20 years by Pope Benedict, who before being
elected pontiff headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith.
They also highlighted how Ratzinger updated Crimen
Sollicitationis in 2001 to deal more specifically with
paedophilia as the Church was hit by a string of sexual abuse
scandals around the world.
The new rules said that suspected cases of abuse should
be immediately reported to Rome and asserted the Vatican's
right to hold all enquiries and trials in secret.
The Vatican denies that secret procedures are designed
to hush up cases or prevent victims from going to the police,
saying that the document deals with Church law only.
The BBC report found seven priests with child abuse
allegations made against them living in and around the
Vatican City.
The Italian Catholic Church has described the
documentary, and the decision to show it in Italy, as an
attempt to undermine the Church's role in society.

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