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After one of the boys reported the abuse to his parents, who in turn complained to the diocese, Patiño-Arango was dismissed. Though the family of the first victim was told the seminarian had returned to Colombia, it was later alleged that he had instead been dispatched to Florida. (Eventually, Patiño-Arango did return to Colombia on a flight paid for in large part by the diocese.) The suit alleges that at no time did the diocese or St. Francis publicly broach the topic of Patiño-Arango's abrupt dismissal, nor did they reach out to any of the alleged victims.
The suit also contends that despite the claims to the contrary from the diocese, neither the Houston Police Department nor Child Protective Services were ever notified of Patiño-Arango's alleged crimes.
CPS files are purged every three years, so that part of the diocese's claim could not be proven; HPD had no record of a report alleging abuse against Patiño-Arango from 1995, though a warrant was issued years later, and he is currently a fugitive.
The suit went on to cite a 2004 research study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the behest of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The study estimated that between 1960 and 2004, there had been 4,392 American pedophile priests with a total of 10,667 victims.
A report that accompanied the study stated that there had been a "significant surge" in abuse starting in the 1960s and continuing into the mid-1980s, the fallout of which was still then-continuing. "The bishops acknowledged that 'in the past secrecy has created an atmosphere that has inhibited the healing process and, in some cases, enabled sexually abusive behavior to be repeated.'" The report went on to say that "time and again church leaders failed to report incidents of possible criminal activity to the civil authorities."
It was and is Shea's belief that this secrecy was an official Vatican policy, and that Ratzinger's own writings as well as earlier official Vatican documents prove it. Specifically, in the latter category, there is Crimen.
Much but not all of Crimen deals specifically with how to proceed in cases in which a priest solicits sex while conducting the sacrament of confession. Which would seem to be enough luridness for any one document, but the last third of Crimen continues on to discuss something translatable from the Latin as "the worst crime": priestly sex with minors or "brute animals."
In those cases, the Vatican instructed that proceedings were to be conducted "in the most secretive way...restrained by a perpetual silence...and everyone [including the victim]...is to observe the strictest secret, which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office...under the penalty of excommunication." It also states that all investigations are to be conducted within the Church and that such jurisdiction ends ten years after the victim turns 18 years old.
Crimen did not mention anything about turning priests over to the law, nor did it mention any method of care for the victims of these cases.
Shea knew nothing of this document until 2001, when it was footnoted in Ratzinger's May 18 letter. "They put everything on the Web site in five languages, except this letter [of May 18] that was only in Latin," Shea says. "They think they are the only people who can still read Latin, but they forgot that there were people out there like me with pontifical degrees."
Not only does Shea, a former Roman Catholic deacon, have that degree, but he is also the kind of guy who assiduously reads and investigates footnotes. And appendices. He says the devil in Vatican documents is so often hidden in the footnotes and appendices. And it was in a footnote that he first saw mention of Crimen. He had an idea what would be in it from its title, but it would be two years before a full copy would be sent to him anonymously in the summer of 2003 in a plain brown envelope with no return address.
Tones of sickened wonder still creep into Shea's voice when he talks about Crimen. "There is literally a liturgical ceremony that a bishop uses to forgive a priest who has been indicted, and sends him on a pious pilgrimage," he says, lapsing into some of the language in the original document. "As long as the priest in his confession of guilt makes an acknowledgment that no one can be saved unless he believes what the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church believes, teaches, professes and practices...So they use it to promulgate that bullshit idea that there's no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. So as long as the priest is willing to do that, he gets a get-out-of-jail-free card."
To Shea, it gives the lie to the notion that the waves upon waves of cover-ups have been the work of a few bad apples. On the contrary, he says, Crimen proves that the rot came from inside the apple tree. The scandal was no longer an indictment of a seemingly endless procession of grievously flawed men, but of an organization that was involved in an international conspiracy to obstruct justice.
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