Extracts follow from an English translation of the now-admitted Roman Catholic Church Papal document Crimen Sollicitationis or "Crime of Solicitation," also quoted as Instructio de modo procedendi in causis sollicitationis or "Instruction on the manner of proceeding in cases of solicitation," of March 16, 1962.
This Vatican "Instruction" orders complete secrecy in cases where priests are accused of misusing Confession (Penance, latterly known as Reconciliation) to solicit sex (see Sections 1, 71 and 73), and other sex crimes.
"To be diligently stored in the secret archives of the curia as strictly confidential nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries." (page 5) - English
Servanda diligenter in archivo secreto curiae pro norma interna.
Non publicanda nec ullis comentariis augenda - Latin
A complete English translation WAS at: <www.rentapriest.com/ Criminales.pdf>, a "bloated" 1770 kb in Acrobat ® PDF. In October 2006 it was found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/28_09_06_Crimen_english.pdf>.
(The webpage you are reading, of extracts only, totals only about 90 kilobytes.)
The Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusets, U.S.A.) broke the news
on July 29, 2003. CBS News is quoted as saying that the document called on bishops to pursue cases "in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … under the penalty of excommunication". Read Sections 11, 13, and 70, and Formula A. Some lawyers for sex-abuse victims said the document was evidence of a centrally-planned conspiracy to conceal sex-abuse crimes from the courts.
The Vatican was quoted by Catholic News on August 7, 2003 <www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/20030807.htm> as saying that the Instruction had been superseded years ago by the 1983 reformulation of the Church's Canon Law, and new norms in 2001.
However, an Irish newspaper's refutation on August 27 2003 at <http://strabanechronicle.com/news7.htm> stated that a Vatican letter of 18 May 2001 quoting it was on the internet.
A search of the Vatican's website (see the 2nd paragraph) revealed:
< http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20010518_epistula_graviora%20delicta_lt.html>. The Vatican went silent. Oremus! It is Epistula Graviora Delicta, and is mirrored on this website here.
(An example of a translation hiccup in the following is: In the first line of the Latin "Supremae Sacrae Congregationis Sancti Officii," the word "Sacrae" often is translated as "Sacred," not "Holy.")
From the Supreme and Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office [an arm of the Roman Catholic Church's central authority], to all Roman Catholic leaders of dioceses and equivalents, even the Oriental Rites [which ordinarily are supposed to have independence in many matters].
Start of: www.johnm.multiline.com.au/ethics/crimineextracts.htm ,
Complete original Latin (1891 kb, PDF) WAS at: http://www.rentapriest.com/Criminales.pdf
Section 4: The bishop or equivalent of the place is the judge, even for people in religious orders.
The accused can be transferred, unless the inquisition has begun.
Section 11: This imposes the strictest secrecy, and orders that an oath of secrecy be taken by the Church officials appointed to make inquiries and hold a trial. This secrecy is described as "a secret of the Holy Office." Breaking it incurs automatic expulsion (excommunication) from the Church, without any need for a declaration.
Section 13: The oath of secrecy must be imposed on the accusers and/or denouncers, as well as the accused, who if s/he breaks it will be automatically expelled by that very act.
Section 21: The "solicited penitent," i.e., the victim, has an obligation (previously set out in Sections 15 to 19) to denounce the priest (to Church authorities), and this obligation does not cease even under the various circumstances listed, except at the death of the alleged offender.
Section 35: Rules about witnesses, and advice for the inquirers to check if there is prior enmity against the accused priest.
Section 42a: If it seems that the accusation totally lacks foundation, that fact is to be noted, and the documents destroyed.
Section 44: After the first admonition, if a further accusation arises, the bishop may or may not decide whether to make another admonition, or to take further measures.
Section 52: The seal of confession is not to be broken. Check if the last sentence is correctly translated: Omnino vero meminerit iudex Reum iuramento veritatis dicendae adstringere numquam fas esse (cfr Can. 1744).
Section 59: The appeal having been made, the judge must quickly send the details to the Holy Office. (Penalties are set out in Sections 61 to 64.)
Sections 67-69 order the bishop or equivalent to report convicted priests to the Vatican Holy Office (and if they are in an Order, to their Religious Superior-General), and to tell the bishop of another area if a guilty priest shifts to or wishes to preach in his territory.
Section 70: All communications are "the secret of the Holy Office" which binds under pain of serious sin. (Translation shaky here.)
Section 71: The worst crime is an obscene external gravely sinful deed, or an attempt, with a person of the cleric's own gender.
Section 73: The worst crime for the penal effects is to do the equivalent of any obscene external gravely sinful act with young people, or with animals.
Confirmation of this document by Pope John XXIII on March 16, 1962 (page 24 in the original Latin)
The Oath in Formula A is to faithfully exercise one's office, and "to observe the secret of the Holy Office," nor break the secrecy even for the most urgent and serious cause including for a greater good. The penalty is automatic expulsion from the Church. (Page 27 in the original Latin.)
To believers, being outside the Church at the point of death is a serious matter. This is shown on page 28, in Formula B, a set of words for an offender who confesses fault, and swears an oath to renounce and abjure his/her past actions. He/she makes the promises " … knowing that no one can be saved unless he believes what the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church holds, believes, preaches, professes and teaches … " (" … sciens neminem posse salvari nisi credat quod tenet, credit, praedicat, profitetur et docet Sancta Catholica et Apostolica Romana Ecclesia … ")
(The "no salvation outside the Church of Rome" attitude was greatly mollified by some declarations of the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church, 1963-1965. Canon Law, on which much of the 1962 document is based, has since been revised, Pope John Paul II confirming the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges to promulgate the new Code of Canon Law on January 25, 1983. See <http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_25011983_sacrae-disciplinae-leges_en.html>.)
On 18 May 2001, the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei issued an Epistula mentioning quia Instructio Crimen sollicitationis. It may be found at:
Since the news of this secrecy ruling broke in the U.S.A. on July 29, 2003, it took more than a week for it to appear in some Australian newspapers. (Perhaps they were seeking confidential confirmation of its veracity.)
The Vatican denied that it still applied, see the Catholic News Service, "Vatican official says 1962 norms on solicitation no longer apply", <http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/20030807.htm>, by Cindy Wooden, (Posted by Kathy Shaw on Poynteronline,
QuickLink: A43904), Thursday, August 7, 2003.
However, on August 27, 2003 it was reported in Ireland that a Vatican "Letter" had been found on the Internet, the newspaper claiming that Crimen Sollicitationis was still a valid document. See
Strabane Chronicle, "Old Vatican document like nuclear weapon,"
<http://strabanechronicle.com/news7.htm>, By Jacqueline Courtney.
The report said it had the name of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on it, and was dated May 18, 2001. A "Letter" or Epistula fitting such a description is on the Vatican's website
and is mirrored on this website at <crimineepistula.htm>.
But, in spite of such denials, the full Crimen Sollicitationis document suddenly appeared on the Internet on the Vatican website, and was spotted by someone in 2010:
<http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_crimen-sollicitationis-1962_en.html>. (Checked again 27 Aug 2013)
1922 was a forerunner secrecy code:
"7. Crimen sollicitationis is essentially a set of procedural norms for processing cases of accusations against priests for soliciting sex while in the act of sacramental confession.
Solicitation is an especially heinous canonical crime and one which results in severe penalties for those found guilty. This document was preceded by one issued on June 9, 1922 by the Congregation for the Holy Office. It was signed by the prefect, Cardinal Merry del Val, and was approved by Pope Pius XI. Like the 1962 document, it was issued in strict secrecy and its content was never published in the official publication of the Holy See, the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
"8. The 1922 and 1962 documents are identical in content. The 1962 document however contains an appendix which provides the formularies to be used for the various steps in the judicial process. Also, the 1922 document was sent only to diocesan bishops. The 1962 document was intended for use in cases involving diocesan priests as well as priests who were members of religious communities."
- Doyle, Thomas P. (of USA), CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE, ABBREVIATED BIBLIOGRAPHY …, pages 2-3, Revised August 12, 2013,
Secrecy code traced back to 1886 (so far): Scholars have traced the secrecy rule back to 1886. "The reference is: Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. "Instruction". Feb. 20, 1866, in CODICIS IURIS CANONICI FONTES, editor, Pietro Cardinal Gasparri, Volume IV, 990." (This is possibly the papal decree that first imposed absolute secrecy on all canonical processes involving solicitation for sex in the confessional and related sex crimes by clerics.) See Doyle, Thomas P. (of USA), CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE, ABBREVIATED BIBLIOGRAPHY …, page 76, Revised August 12, 2013,
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