April 25, 2005

Cardinal obstructed inquiry into sex abuse, says paper

Sydney Morning Herald

April 25, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI faces claims he obstructed justice after a London newspaper obtained an order issued in his name ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001. It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, reported The Observer, which has a copy of the letter.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims told The Observer the order was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accused then-Cardinal Ratzinger of committing a "clear obstruction of justice".

The letter, "concerning very grave sins", was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and that was overseen by Cardinal Ratzinger.

Posted by kshaw at April 25, 2005 06:40 AM