Pope urged: Open Vatican sex abuse files

Hand the evidence to the police; Archbishop will forward our request

9 September, 2010

Benedict XVI
LONDON — The Catholic Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, has promised to "pass on" calls by the Protest the Pope campaign for Benedict XVI to "open the Vatican's secret sex abuse files and hand them over the relevant police authorities worldwide." To date, the Pope has always refused to do so. He insists on "Papal Secrecy".

The Archbishop's pledge came at a meeting with organisers of the Protest the Pope campaign, held Wednesday morning at New Scotland Yard at the Archbishops' request and with the approval of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.

"The largest part of the meeting involved our request for the Pope to give his sex abuse evidence to the police. We are pleased and reassured that Archbishop Smith agreed to forward our request," said Peter Tatchell of the Protest the Pope campaign. He was present at this morning's meeting and made the formal request to the Archbishop.

Archbishop Smith met a delegation of Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association and Marco Tranchino and Peter Tatchell of the Protest the Pope campaign.

"At the meeting, we called on the Pope to open the Vatican's secret sex abuse files and hand them over the relevant police authorities worldwide. The Archbishop agreed to communicate our request," added Mr Tatchell.

"The Pope's condemnation of sex abuse by clergy will never be taken seriously until he agrees to pass to the police in countries around world the evidence the Vatican has compiled on child molesting priests, bishops and cardinals. Keeping these files secret is wrong and collusion with criminal acts.

"It is no use Benedict meeting victims of sex abuse if he is not willing to hand over his own bulging Vatican files on clerical abusers.

"In 2001, when he was a Cardinal, the Pope wrote to every Catholic bishop in the world, requiring them to report all child sex abuse cases to him in Rome. He cannot claim that he was unaware of the abuse that was happening. His letter did not urge the bishops to report abusers to the police.

"As the Catholic theologian Hans Kung has said, the Pope bears co-responsibility for the failure to protect children and bring abusers to justice.

"During his visit to Britain, Benedict should apologise for his own personal shortcomings, instead of merely apologising for the behaviour of other clergy.

"The Archbishop's fear of unruly demonstrations by the Protest the Pope campaign is ill-founded. We plan no disruptions.

"We reiterated to Archbishop Smith that we have always been committed to peaceful, lawful protests. He accepted our assurances," said Mr Tatchell. – Issued by Outrage!

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