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28 November 2008


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Dave of Maryland

Looks like a hoax to me.

A secret Vatican archive? Confirmed by unnamed sources in England & Wales? A 39 page Latin document that just happens to be in English?

Signed by a pope who did not quite survive five years in office (brief for a pope). I looked at the document but did not find a papal signature.

So is this document a translation? Why would a translation be necessary? Rome, to this day, is a Latin outfit. At the time, every priest in the world celebrated a Latin Mass. Every.Single.Day.

So now I'm looking at the Observer article for a name. Any name. And I found Texas lawyer Daniel Shea.

So I Googled him. I found the following, from La Salette Journal. This is a Catholic paper, but the date is June 23, 2005: More than three years ago:

Attorney Daniel Shea is a Houston, Texas-based lawyer who used to be a seminarian and whose hatred of the Church would seem to be rather evident based upon his own rhetoric. As already noted, he has referred to the Church as "a criminal institution" while asserting that "those who contribute to it any longer are aiding and abetting this criminal conduct called obstruction of justice." He has also asserted that "Ratzinger and Co" are engaging in an 'international conspiracy to obstruct justice."

Attorney Shea has also been a guest speaker for the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy. He spoke at their 2nd Conference which was held at the Hilton, Southwest Freeway, Houston, Texas on August 26-29, 1993. His involvement with this group is documented at this website link: http://www.transgenderlegal.com/ictlephis1.htm (p. 4).

You can read Daniel Shea's resume here. He is, indeed, a former Catholic seminarian who soured on the Church & now represents transgender clients.

In the Independent we read,

The Vatican document from 1962, carrying the seal of Pope John XXIII, was discovered by a German priest with close links to the Vatican and leaked to a lawyer in Texas, Daniel Shea, who acts for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

An unnamed German priest. Could he be a close friend of the current - German - pope? How convenient.

In the Independent article (linked above), we read,

The Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States said: "Those making this claim ... are taking the document entirely out of context and therefore distorting it completely." It added that the document "has no bearing on civil law. It does not forbid the civil reporting of civil crimes."

So I went to the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States & I clicked on News. There were a lot of entries. So I searched on Those making this claim, the phrase quoted in the Independent. It was not found.

I don't know about the Observer itself, but it's sister paper, the Guardian, is suspect. While I like the liberal slant of the Guardian, I have lately taken to reading their religious columns. Those columns are intensely, personally, hostile to Christian religion specifically & to metaphysics generally. I myself have a hard time with this point of view as much of my life has been taken up with discarnates, spooks, ghosts, demons, etc. You may scoff, but I've got an ongoing problem upstairs in my own house, with my own 8 year old daughter, and it's beginning to make me worry.

The Church is guilty of many sins, but it is also the victim of many hoaxes.


I think Frank Durkee was spot on with his diagnosis that 40 years ago the religious world was much different. Society in general and families always hushed up the "dirty linen"

The hush job was not just endemic to Catholics. My father-in-law was a Lutheran minister and then an official with the national Lutheran headquarters. After he got used to my Jewishness and after he retired he shared much of what he had to deal with in the 40's and 50's Lutheran clergy.

While homosexual episodes may not have been as prevelent with Lutherans as with Catholic clergy but there were numerous episodes of pedophilia and sex with married women members, especially connected with counseling. All these were hushed by headquarters and ministers either reassigned or expelled depending on the gravity of the offense.

I am not surprised by Pope John XXIII's instructions. While it might be disappointing it truely was a sign of the times.


Why does the Guardian story quote a USAF chaplain stationed in Germany as the legal expect in church law?


Col. Lang:

On reflection, if the document is genuine, I have to wonder whether we're attaching too much importance to its content and not enough to the fact that it is finally seeing the light of day.

This may well be part of a still-coming-to-fruition realization on the part of the Vatican that it needs to to own up to its role in what has been a disaster for the church.


Col. Lang:

On further reflection (and a prod from you) the obvious question comes up as to how the document got into the hands of the press.

My money is on the good guys. I really think they want to do it right but they've got a big mountain to climb. Moreover, that's hard to do when all you're used to wearing are cassocks.

Benedict's got a good start, however. For example, look at the recent editorial revolution he promulgated at the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
I don't see that as a PR makeover but as a genuine attempt to bring the church into the 21st century.

Allowing the Pope John XXIII document to be leaked may well be another.

Richard Armstrong

Ian: "If you're going to stay in a bad institution, you have to figure out how you'll work to change things."

You grasped one of the points I was trying to make.

The other point I was trying impress is that I believe that walking away from the scene of a crime doesn't relieve the individual of their moral obligation to do something about that crime.


In response to Mr. Armstrong's questions above, YES I am still an American. Why? Because the Founding Fathers gave us a method to address criminal wrongdoing by our elected officials. To vote, to investigate, to prosecute any people who violate the Law of the Land and when necessary demonstrate. Although the argument has been well made that this is not a democracy but an oligarchy, I wish that I could remain naive to those facts. Does it mean I stop trying? No.

My religion (RC), I believe should provide the moral fabric and guidelines I need to conduct my life. It is not a democracy, nor can I change their behaviour, unless I choose to be Martin Luther. It is the moral hypocrisy that I find repugnant from both the political and religious arenas.

One, I can do something about.


When I was a kid, 10-14, I lived in a very very religious commune, where my math-teacher would quote the bible, and it was pretty weird. I fought a lot in those days, thankfully I am not small. The evil of religion, in ANY shape, when it turns into fanatiscm, is very very ugly. The acceptance of unacceptable crimes is just one of the symptoms of that kind of fanatics.

Beautiful religion, on the other hand, wich celebraes the love of life, is another matter.


I remember reading somewhere that when the early Christian church became the state religion of the later Roman Empire that the fundamental, irreconcilable dichotomy between rendering unto Caesar that which was Caesar's and God that which was God's forced the two entities to choose which set of ethics should prevail. The state's won. A huge portion of the history of the Roman church since that time is one of prelates who are perforce temporal powers as much - and sometimes more than - spiritual leaders.

ISTM that this s not just a Roman problem. All churches, once they move past the "meeting-in-someone's-house" phase have to deal with the issue of how much temporal power and authority can exist comfortably with spiritual rectitude. For thrones and dominations do, often must do, things that aren't morally palatible. If this document appalls you you weren't paying attention in history when the professor told you about the selling of indulgences or the Albigensian Crusade. Churches do what they have to do to survive and prosper. Heiratic churches, especially, tend to value conformity and secrecy over chaotic revelations and an informed and unruly laity...

One question this issue raises is the one of priestly celibacy. My understanding is that the early Church chose not to make this an issue, and the letters of the Apostles even suggest that there were married couples and even women in positions of authority in the early Church. The women were suppressed by the Pauline faction and the couples ejected (I believe) in the early middle ages to reduce the problems of heiritance of clerical positions and property. I find no unequivocal insistance in the Gospels for a exclusively celibate male priesthood and these recurring scandals might suggest that the Holy See revisit this dogma.

Tragic. Yes. Surprising? No.

Jack from NYC

I think information such as this has to be examined within the context of its times, not ours. Yes, such a document is troubling, and no pope would issue it today, but is it that out of line for its times? I am no longer a Catholic, but do think it time for people to move on.

John Moore

It is with priests such as this one detailed in this article, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/13/sbm.cambodia.ponchaud/index.html, where the future of the Catholic Church may be found. Perhaps there were more than a few bad apples, but overall, the entire barrel has a fine batch of apples most likely.


I seem to be the only one who read the article to the bottom:
'This document is about the Church's internal disciplinary procedures should a priest be accused of using confession to solicit sex. It does not forbid victims to report civil crimes. The confidentiality talked about is aimed to protect the accused as applies in court procedures today. It also takes into consideration the special nature of the secrecy involved in the act of confession.'
'It is certainly an indication of the pathological obsession with secrecy in the Catholic Church, but in itself it is not a smoking gun.'

Conversely, everyone else commenting seems to be assuming that this document *is* a smoking gun and *does* prevent reporting of civil crimes.


'You can read Daniel Shea's resume here. He is, indeed, a former Catholic seminarian who soured on the Church & now represents transgender clients. '

And of course, after criticizing everyone else for failing to read the article, I myself fail to read the comments. It looks like Dave from Maryland spotted the hoax before I did.


aln val -- The document is not a forgery. It was discovered by plaintif's lawyers in several locations as they subpoened materials in a number of cases, and there are numerous references to it in other documents. Moreover, it is not new policy on the part of John XXIII, rather it is a restatement of Canon Law that is centuries old. When it became public a few years ago it was widely discussed, including at a special section of the ABA convention among defense and Plaintif's attorneys.

Why it is important? It explains the common pattern of behavior of the Bishops in various parts of the world to public revelation of a problem that crosses cultures and nationalities, both before this became a public issue, and afterwards as they faced so many legal processes. Didn't matter whether the problem was a religious order Seminary in Austria, in the Irish Church, or across the USA, the Bishops responded in lock-step, and that pattern of behavior needed to be understood.

The problem it reveals, and which I content could become a landmark church-state legal case pivots on a true clash between Canon and Civil/Criminal law. Canon Law seeks to protect the elevated status of the ordained, even if the ordained is guilty of serious sexual abuse. Civil and Criminal law treats all parties as individuals, with the claim of special status for the ordained as irrelevant to the offense or crime. The fact that the document actually orders Church Officials and indeed all Catholics to violate civil/criminal law, as for instance to not report a suspected or known violation of law to civil authority, presents a highly significant constitutional church/State issue.


Did Sadaam Hussein ever issue a decree to facilitate the rape of children? Did Hitler?

What is more evil than the arbiters of morality systematically raping babies?

Looks like a "mushroom cloud smoking gun" to me, can we liberate the world from this cabal of sexual predators?

The odds of a priest molesting your children is much much more likely than a member of your family being a victim of a terrorist attack.

PS if you voted for a non child rapist like Obama, you need to do penance.

David Blimmo

The governments of the world should ban together and burn the Vatican and every Catholic church to the ground. EVERY catholic is guilty of child rape due to their personal decisions to not act when it was common knowledge around the world that perverted Catholic priets were raping children. I say we put all Catholics on prison chain gangs.

Marcus  Aurelius

Apparently, god is afraid of the truth coming out.


I think the sensationalism in the reporting here is a little... over the top.

The document itself, as far as I can tell, was never 'secret'. Rather, it deals with secrecy; specifically, it was written to address the issue of priestly solicitation DURING THE ACT OF PENANCE. Apparently, some priests sought to spice up the confessional with some creative penitence. Perhaps all that sin being offered gave the priests ideas... In a thousand plus years of the sacrament of penance, maybe it's inevitable that some subset of the priesthood would use the confessional as a 'hotline' for identifying sinners... whom they could then proposition....

But, given the purported sanctity of the confessional, proceeding in cases like this, it follows, must be secret. It's just a logical outgrowth of the rules of confession and penitence in the Catholic Church (I'm not condoning or condemning the confessional, just pointing out that public investigations of soliciting during confession is counter-productive to Catholicisms internal logic. ) The oaths of secrecy were administered in order that the sanctity of the confessional was maintained.

In any event, the nefariousness here isn't that John XXIII wrote this (he didn't) or that it's a 'secret' document (it isn't, it's a document that deals with secrecy). The wrong is that, much later, the Catholic Church used these same, very specific, rules for investigations into pedophilic clergy that had nothing whatsoever to do with any sacrement.. Perhaps they were lazy. Or perhaps they were amoral. But what is clear is that, needing some rules, they decided to apply existing rules, written for a very specific situation, towards another equally specific, but very different situation. There are good reasons (from the point of view of Catholics) for the original rules and their original applications. Nothing nefarious here. It was not until the rules were applied to a different situation that we can judge them harshly

Marcus  Aurelius

Jack from NYC, said:

"I am no longer a Catholic, but do think it time for people to move on."

Why would you want people to move on before the full extent of the child-raping (and the rapists being brought to justice for their crimes) is known?


I am not surprised. This has been going on for many years and could not have happened so universally without the collusion or at least tacit blessing from the highest levels of the Vatican. Misconduct by the Clergy is one of my main reasons for becoming an ex-Catholic.

Whether they realize it or not, the Catholic church is paying the price for their cover-ups. First of all, it's going to cost them massive amounts of money in settlements.

Secondly, the Catholic clergy is in such disrepute at this time that nobody wants to enter it. There are massive parishes here in the U.S. that are served by only one full-time priest, or even sometimes sharing priests between more than one parish.

With fewer priests and the laity taking up more of their functions, the Catholic church seems to be moving towards a more Protestantized model of a "bottom-up" hierarchy, in which the Clergy is accountable to parishoners, rather than the "top-down" structure that currently exists.

With fewer priests available and more involvement by parishoners, there are movements within the Catholic church like "Voice of the Faithful" in which lay members are demanding more transparancy and accountablity from the Clergy.

It will take a long time but I think they are going in the right direction.


I hate to admit it, but I was thinking the exact same thing that 'alnval' posted. The present Vatican hierarchy is extremely conservative and secretive. Many come from the Opus Dei faction. I would be extremely disappointed, but not at all surprised, that a 'smear campaign' is being waged covertly against John XXIII.

A final anecdote. My mom (age 74)told me a while back that the parish priest at her parochial school in the 1940's told her religion class that Hell would be full of 'corrupted priests and clergy.'

John Hickey

If the document is 40 years old, how could John XXIII have been involved, he died in 1963. It sounds more like John Paul VI, who rolled back the tide of change ushered in by John XXIII


Not surprising, really.

This document is why Cardinal Law is living in a luxury apartment suite in the Vatican and has a $12000+ monthly stipend. He is being rewarded for protecting the "Church" and the brotherhood of priests instead of following his faith and protecting his flock.

I was raised Catholic. I have relatives who were priests and nuns. And while I feel for those good people I know, I simply cannot support the hierarchy or the institution any longer.


Paul in NC wrote
I don't mean to disparage all priests. But does anyone really believe this is a late twentieth century problem?

I don't understand why this came as such a revelation (heh) in the late 1990s. I'm Jewish and this was common knowledge (and treated as something of a joke) among my public school peers, back in the 1970s.

I can even remember my father chortling over a local case at the dinner table one time. My mother disapproved, but only because of the venue. The Sacrament of Extreme Friction wasn't appropriate mealtime conversation.

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