Lawyer claims 1962 Vatican document protects abusive priests

 A lawyer acting for alleged victims of abuse by priests has announced the discovery of a 1962 Vatican document which he says proves the Church has systematically obstructed the course of justice in order to protect abusive priests. However church lawyers, argue that the document referred only to church law and did not order bishops to engage in criminal cover-ups. The lawyer, Daniel Shea, told a Sunday newspaper yesterday that the 1962 Vatican instruction was " a blueprint for deception and concealment". Mr Shea says he was given the document by a clergyman in Germany who has close dealings with the Vatican. Bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII, the document calls for "strictest" secrecy in dealing with abuse allegations within the Church. It deals mainly with priests accused of soliciting in the confessional. On 7 August, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the document: 'Crimen sollicitationis', had not been in force for years. In a statement the conference said it was superseded by later guidelines introduced in the 1960s, 1970s and in 1983. The conference also said the 1962 document "had no bearing on civil law" and had been misrepresented. See also today's story: 'US Bishops response to media reports on 1962 Vatican document'

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