In a recent article from USA Today, we learn that:
Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City state on [July 11], criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.
… Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state’s legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. [This was signed into international law nearly 23 years ago, and two sets of further optional protocols have since been added, one of which explicitly deals with the sexual exploitation of children.]
… Anyone who reveals or receives confidential information or documentation risks six months to two years in prison and a €2,000 euro ($2,500) fine; the penalty goes up to eight years in prison if the material concerns the “fundamental interests” of the Holy See or its diplomatic relations with other countries.
…[The ]crime of leaking Vatican information never existed before in the Vatican legal system.
I know they say they’re criminalizing child sex abuse, child pornography, and so on. But here’s the deal: these laws only cover the Vatican, which is a miniscule nation. It’d be nothing more than a tin-pot dictatorship, if people didn’t think that this cloister of geriatric celibates had a direct psychic hotline to the omnipotent creator of the universe. And while their legislation has laughably small power, their attempt to ban the leaking of information of interest to the Vatican has a much more wide-reaching impact.
For example: in 2005, The Guardian ran an article about public criticism of then-newly-elected Pope Ratzinger’s direct involvement with covering up the rampant clergy child rape. The gist of the article:
Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had ‘obstructed justice’ after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.
The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.
It asserted the church’s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II’s successor last week.
Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a ‘clear obstruction of justice’.
The letter, ‘concerning very grave sins’, was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.
With Pope Francis’ new law, we would never know that information about child molestation was being withheld as confidential – when, by all rights, this information should be going directly to the authorities. Moreover, we would never know that the new pope himself was involved in this decision to betray abused children and delay the dealing of justice against their rapists.
This church has a disgusting history of attempting to hide the sexual abuse perpetrated by those whom it ordained as moral authorities and representatives of their supposedly perfect deity. They don’t deserve any respect for wanting to punish people for making this and other information public.