Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2010 / 10:22 am
In wake of the media blitz on the recent surfacing of clerical sexual abuse in Europe, the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) has released a statement encouraging Church officials to cooperate with secular authorities and police in investigating such cases. The CEI’s statement also expressed support for Pope Benedict and called for a careful selection of candidates for the priesthood to ensure full maturity at all levels.
The bishops refuted allegations made by victims’ associations and media reports that the bishops had opposed cooperation with police and investigators, and insisted that they “support those authorities through faithful cooperation.” The bishops' statement said that they agree that a “rigorous and transparent application of canonical procedural and criminal rules are the main path to search for the truth.”
The Italian prelates also “reaffirmed their support for the victims of abuse and their families, wounded and offended by the Church itself.”
Recent media reports have claimed that a 1962 canonical law, as well as a 2001 directive issued by then-Cardinal Ratzinger encourage secrecy and in-house investigations of clerical sexual abuse cases. Last week, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi strongly denied the New York Times’ claim that Vatican secrecy rules prohibited Church figures from reporting such cases to the police. Additionally, the CEI statement came to the Pope’s defense, arguing that Pope Benedict has displayed a “determined and enlightened” attitude in confronting sexual abuse.