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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Vatican's chief investigator of sexual abuse admits it was like a 'tsunami'

Monsignor Scicluna, in October 2002, you were appointed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to investigate allegations of clerical child sex abuse. Why were you chosen?

I was no newcomer to the Roman Curia. After studying civil and canon law, I began working in 1996 at the Roman Catholic Church’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In one of the positions I held there, I served as secretary of a commission that produced the draft of an important document regarding the nullity-of-marriage process.

This document was released by the Holy See in 2002 under the title of “Dignitas connubii.” While I was working as secretary of this commission, I attracted the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

What was someone versed in canon law doing in the congregation of faith, and as a “promotor iustitiae” at that?

The congregation was never just an administrative body. It was also a tribunal. It is charged with investigating the most serious crimes defined by canon law, matters that include the breach of the seal of the confessional and the sacramental absolution of accomplices in sexual misconduct. In such cases, a prosecutor known as the promoter of justice, “promotor iustitiae,” is appointed. This position had been vacant since 1995 and was filled in 2002.

In reaction to the child abuse scandal in the United States, which triggered a massive outcry around the world at the time?

Not directly. In April 2001, Pope John Paul II expanded the scope of the congregation’s authority to include “sexual abuse.” At that point, the church needed a lawyer who would investigate the material full time.

For this reason, the church gave me the position in the congregation on a trial basis in January 2002 and assigned me to investigate a special abuse case that had been gathering dust for several years because there were no personnel to look into it.


Full interview


And a remarkable admission about the failings of the 'spirit of Vatican II'.

Why was this indirect approach required?

One problem was that the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983 did not reserve competence on sexual abuse cases to Rome but rather, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, left these cases in the hands of the individual bishops. There was no requirement to report these cases to Rome.
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