The Real Horrendous and Nefarious Crime? Not Calling the Police

It’s papal trivia time!

In light of the recent explosion of media coverage about the clergy sex abuse scandal, revelations about the inaction of bishops to stop offenders, and the full-scale global cover-up of the rape of hundreds of thousands of children, let’s take a little quiz.

Name the Pope who insisted that all clerics who molest children be turned over to civil authorities and forced to live a life of penance at a monastery far away from children?

A)   Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

B)   Pope Benedict XVI (2005-present)

C)   Pope Pius V (1566-1572)

The winner?  C.  Apparently, someone got it right 438 years ago.  And that was the last time anyone thought about calling the cops.

Church documents show that the crime of bishops, priests, deacons, and religious raping and sodomizing children has been known and understood by the Roman Papacy for at least a millennium.  Pope Saint Pius V (1566 -1572) referred to the crime against children in his Constitutions of August 30, 1568 as horrendum illud scelus: that horrendous crime.

And then he did something revolutionary:  He demanded action to keep kids safe.

Pius V sought to reform the criminal depravity and moral laxity of the clergy by instituting penalties that bishops, abbots, and superiors of religious orders could invoke on the cleric.  Pius V states:

§1. “Clearly it is known to the Lateran Council that clerics who have been caught sinning against nature with children must be cast out from the clergy or forced to lead a life of penance in the Monasteries.

Funny, he doesn’t say anything transferring a priest to a new location where people won’t know about his past …

In light of the recent developments of Gilbert Gauthe and Oliver O’Grady being loose in society, it probably would be prudent to follow Pope Pius V second point and place the 4,392 clerics mentioned in the John Jay Study in Monasteries without schools.

§2. “But lest the contagion of such a disease grow stronger, we have concluded in Council that the Clerical defendants of this nefarious crime must be punished severely, that for those who do not shudder at the damnation of their souls the avenging secular sword of civil laws may surely deter them.”

Pope Pius V concluded in the sixteenth century that punishment must be severe and the offending clerics turned over to civil authorities.

The Church, according to Professor Henry Charles Lea’s History of the Inquisition, did call the police.  Clerics were handed various punishments including a life of rowing in the gallows and even death.

With the punishments available today, if the bishops followed the leadership of Pope Saint Pius V, many clerics would have only scarred one child instead of the dozens each priest perpetrators has.  Somewhere between the 16th and 20th centuries, the bishops stopped turning clerics over to civil authorities.

§3. “Therefore, we intend to pursue more fully now and with more vigor what has already been decreed in this pestilence, and we deprive any Presbyter and any other Clerics, either diocesan or religious, of whatever grade, rank, office or privilege who commit so dire and unspeakable an act.  Those demoted by Ecclesiastical judge or Bishop should be immediately delivered to the secular power to receive punishment.”

Pope Saint Pius V is clear: Call the police and turn the cleric over to civil authorities.  For the United States bishops or William Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to claim they did not understand the gravity of the problem or what to do until 1984 is lavender lunacy.  And a downright lie.

The penalties and procedures to stop bishops, priests, deacons, and religious that permanently sexually scare children have been available for centuries.

So, what is the horrendous crime today? The bishops and priests and not calling the police.



Filed under Background Information, canon law, catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse

9 responses to “The Real Horrendous and Nefarious Crime? Not Calling the Police

  1. frankgratian

    How can we expect bishops to report abuse when so many of them simply cannot be trusted. This is evident from their past actions. For example, when Msgr. Joseph Pepe left Philadelphia to go to Santa Fe to help with the abuse crisis there, he had already been involved in coverups in Philadelphia:
    Then he went to Santa Fe to help with the abuse crisis there, and ended up as a close friend with one of the priest abusers! or
    Currently, now Bishop Joseph Pepe, bishop of Las Vegas, remains close friends and traveling companion of disgraced Father Bruckner. Even after Bruckner was restricted from priestly ministry, Pepe and Bruckner appeared at public events together, with Bruckner presenting himself as a priest in good standing. For example, on one occasion when Bruckner was visiting Pepe in Nevada, they attended an Episcopal ceremony together as Catholic representatives:
    If this is the way bishops behave, how can we trust them?

  2. brokeharvardgrad

    First, one must assume that the Catholic Church wants to act to help keep children safe. I have reported sexually abusive behavior to our local diocese, and I was told that I needed to call the police, not the church. Then, I told the diocese how children were getting injured on playground equipment, how the playground lacked proper supervision, and after an “extensive review,” the local diocese stated that they didn’t feel they needed to do any more than the public schools did (even though public school playground equipment must be inspected and safety-approved by State of Michigan official, who do not inspect the local Catholic schools’ equipment) to prevent childhood injury. And, their response to the supervision issue was to simply tell me I could go somewhere else to get my child educated. My child had gotten seriously injured on their playground, started the whole discussion of safety, but it was clear to me that the diocese was not interested in children’s safety, and I later found out that a priest who had been investigated for child abuse had been placed in our community for years, with the diocesan knowledge of past problems.

    The crime is failing to protect children, ignoring complaints regarding safety issues, and then sweeping them under the rug in hopes that they will be gone. We left the school, but I can’t tell you how happy I am every time they close a Catholic school down after finding out what I did about our local school and diocese.

  3. Thanks for your good work. I found you while trying to answer a question from a reader of mine: “What is the motivation for the Church cover-up of Clergy child abuse?” It’s tough to understand why people who purport to serve God would allow the most innocent into harm’s way. I’m still flailing for a coherent answer but I appreciate the info you have here.

  4. chite1

    Just heard you on BBC radio 4. Admire your stance. Wonder what you see is the evolution of the Catholic Church now.? What would Christ have happen? The sacraments are the essence of the church, not power or institutions. The pain and suffering of the victims is step one to address and the whole world is with you on this but how do we move on from here? Can we move on? What would you do had you the power?

  5. theraggedwagon

    No call there from Pope Pius V to ‘forgive the abuser’.

  6. talkingbook

    He’s making more promises today. I wonder if he’s going to straighten out the bishops on the idea that any information they exchange in the RC hierarchy is NOT privileged information as they claimed in at least the Oliver O’Grady case.

  7. theraggedwagon

    Dearest Dessie (Cardinal Connell) in Dublin was heading for the High Court to protect files on abusers – actually he was taking the Archbishop of Dublin (Diarmuid Martin) to court. Dessie took the legal action to prevent a government commission from examining documents related to allegations of the clerical sexual abuse of children.

  8. It is long past time that we put an end to these charades.

    I have prepared a special surprise for the folks in the Vatican. Read my recent press releases. They have lied about what they are up to and now you have proof.

    The head in sand pose may temporarily hide danger from the ostrich, but the hungry lion has no misconceptions about the truly dire nature of that bird’s predicament. The truth has escaped its cage, and gone on a rampage, seeking long overdue justice.

    Peace and Wisdom…

  9. alfiegallagher

    Hi Patrick,

    Just came across this article. You write, “Somewhere between the 16th and 20th centuries, the bishops stopped turning clerics over to civil authorities.” This is curious. At what point in time does the historical evidence suggest that bishops stopped reporting abusing clerics to civil authorities? And why?

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