Vatican reacts to 'wall of silence' claim


SENIOR VATICAN spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi appeared to respond to criticism of the Catholic Church on Monday from the German justice minister Sabline Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who had argued that Vatican secrecy had helped to create a “wall of silence” surrounding allegations of clerical sex abuse.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Fr Lombardi said the church was “doing all it can” to ensure that the sexual abuse of minors “never happens again”. He added that those German church communities afflicted by the burgeoning German clerical sex abuse crisis had acted “promptly and decisively”.

On Friday, the head of the German bishops conference, Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, will meet the pope in the Vatican for a long-scheduled audience that is now expected to be dominated by the German sex abuse crisis.

On Monday, Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had argued that a 2001 directive from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, De Delictis Gravioribus, dealing with, among other things, clerical child abuse, was an example of Vatican secrecy in that it did not call for state prosecutors to be brought in “as soon as possible”.

Fr Lombardi, however, yesterday defended the directive, saying: “Often inopportunely quoted as the cause of a culture of silence . . . [this letter] was in fact a strong call drawing the attention of the bishops to the gravity of the problem and providing a concrete response outlining ways to confront it.”