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Sex Crimes and the Vatican

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In recent weeks, the Vatican and in particular the Pope, have found themselves at the centre of a growing controversy about how they've dealt with pedophile priests and the children abused by those priests. First aired on the BBC in 2006 and later on The Passionate Eye on CBC Newsworld, "Sex Crimes & the Vatican" examines a controversial document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. What makes it so controversial is that the document Crimen Sollicitationis was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

Created in 1962, the now infamous document was issued in secret to bishops. Called Crimen Sollicitationis, it outlined procedures to be followed by bishops when dealing with allegations of child abuse, homosexuality and bestiality by members of the clergy. It swore all parties involved to secrecy on pain of excommunication from the Catholic Church.

This document was reissued in 2001 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and sent to all bishops. How he interpreted and enforced both it and the previous document is at the heart of today's controversy.

Critics say that rather than ordering more openness and cooperation with the authorities as demanded by both law enforcers and the victims, Cardinal Ratzinger reiterated its policies and ensured that the Code of Silence be applied to all cases of child abuse involving a priest. Cardinal Ratzinger also instructed that all cases should now be referred to his office directly and that he would maintain 'exclusive competence' over the handling of allegations. Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
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