Thursday, August 07, 2003

"Secret" Vatican document

Last night I caught a snippet of a CBS Evening News story on a 1962 Vatican document. Here's how the story (in its print form which I just linked) opens:
    For decades, priests in this country abused children in parish after parish while their superiors covered it all up. Now it turns out the orders for this cover up were written in Rome at the highest levels of the Vatican.

    CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales has uncovered a church document kept secret for 40 years.

    The confidential Vatican document, obtained by CBS News, lays out a church policy that calls for absolute secrecy when it comes to sexual abuse by priests - anyone who speaks out could be thrown out of the church.
Uh, what? Honestly, I didn't see enough of the story last night to warrant my paying much attention, but I read more about it today, and I'm disgusted with CBS News. Go read this story which lays out the truth of the matter...

As it turns out, the curial document focuses solely on what is technically called "solication": the use by a priest of the confessional to tempt the person seeking confession to engage in sexual acts. Because of the seal of confession, these crimes themselves must remain "sealed" as well.

But in the CBS story, there is only a vague hint at the fact that this document focuses on solicitation... unless the reader is aware of the real story, they're more likely to presume that the Vatican document refers to any instance of sexual misconduct by a priest, which it manifestly does not.

Shame shame, CBS.

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