May 18, 2005

Secrets order forced me to quit priesthood

Irish Examiner

THE Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis, referred to by Patrick Geaney (Irish Examiner letters, April 27 and May 11), prompted my resignation from the priesthood in 1984.

At the time my American bishop (since deceased) refused to agree with my decision to refer to the local sheriff a serious allegation of clerical sex abuse which was brought to my attention by the then 10-year-old victim’s parents.

During the course of discussions with my bishop I sought his approval urgently to hand the complete file over to the civil authorities, including the report of the local tribunal which had completed its investigation into the allegations - but he refused.

By way of support for his decision, the bishop went to his filing cabinet, withdrew a copy of Crimen Sollicitationis and referred me to clause 11 in the document, which states:

“What is treated in these cases has to have a greater degree of care and observance so that those same matters be pursued in a most secretive way... they are to be restrained by a perpetual silence (Instruction of the Holy Office, February 20, 1867), each and everyone pertaining to the tribunal, in any way or admitted to knowledge of the matter, because of their office, is to observe the strictest secret, which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office, in all matters and with all persons, under the penalty of excommunication.”

Posted by kshaw at May 18, 2005 04:57 PM