Pontifical Secrets

I’ve been trying to read through all the bishops’ and cardinals’ statements that have come out since Archbishop Vigano’s testimony.  I have to admit, I don’t usually draw attention to my bishop because, well, I don’t want him to be a target for the dissenting machine.  I’ve always found him to be a masterful strategist balanced with a truly pastoral heart, even for those who annoy the heck out of me, as he should, right? He’s definitely got a knack for teaching and encouraging his flock to aim for Heaven.

Anyways, one thing that stood out in his statement but I didn’t quite understand before I had some discussions with smart people and did a little more research was this:

They need access to all the relevant documents, most of which are protected as “Papal Secrets.” They need to interview priests who worked in the Roman Curia and U.S. diocesan offices, who also would be released from the “Papal Secret” and allowed to testify.

We need to find out the truth. Only the truth will set us free. And only the pope can authorize the steps that need to be taken to find the truth.

At first, I thought “papal secret” was some sort of colorful phrase.  Did you know a “Pontifical Secret” is actually a thing?! With Canon Law and penalties attached to it?! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_secret#cite_ref-3  I also found the history surrounding Humane Vitae helpful in understanding why they are not necessarily a bad thing.  https://www.nytimes.com/1974/03/15/archives/vatican-tightens-secrecy-rules-after-leaks-of-popes-papers.html Some days, I’m not sure why we wonder how Dan Brown made millions?  This sounds like the stuff novels are made of, and it kind of lends credence to the rumors that Vatican investigators have been dispatched to search for Archbishop Vigano to bring charges. You should read the link above for details, but here’s a quick summary of what’s covered under “Pontifical Secrets”  (Bold is me.)

“The instruction Secreta continere lists ten classes of matters covered by the pontifical secret:

  1. Preparation of papal documents, if pontifical secrecy is expressly demanded

  2. Information obtained officially by the Secretariat of State in connection with questions requiring pontifical secrecy

  3. Notifications sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about teachings and publications and the Congregation’s examination of them.

  4. Extrajudicial denunciations of crimes against the faith and morals or against the sacrament of Penance, while safeguarding the right of the person denounced to be informed of the denunciation, if his defence against it makes this necessary. The name of the person making the denunciation may be made known to him only if it is judged necessary to have a face-to-face confrontation between denouncer and denounced.

  5. Reports by papal legates on matters covered by pontifical secrecy.

  6. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of cardinals

  7. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of bishops and papal legates and the relative inquiries.

  8. Information obtained officially with regard to the naming of the chief officers of the Roman Curia.

  9. All matters concerning cipher systems and enciphered messages. (No intrigue there.)

  10. Any matter that the Pope, a Cardinal in charge of a department of the Roman Curia, or a papal legate considers to be of such importance that it requires the protection of papal secrecy.[3]”

In short, they have a practical purpose to keep the Church from being scandalized or confused, but on this issue of abuse and cover-ups, that ship has sailed. This isn’t the 1300s anymore. The victims now have a serious voice called the internet. The scandal is now found in keeping silence, and Bishop Barber seems to realize that. That’s not to suggest that everyone on the planet gets to see everything, but probably something more like a Catholic grand jury is warranted.

Just before this cover-up wave hit, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors asked for the “Pontifical Secrets” penalties to be loosed in regards to the abuse scandal, and in certain respects on contacting authorities, it was. That said, where it really counted, peoples’ lips are still sealed. The Vatican was fine in dioceses contacting the local authorities when abuse allegations are made outside the confessional, but when it comes to their own files, they seem, to understate it dramatically, a tad bit hesitant.  What happens when people contact Rome about, say, a certain cardinal, but Rome does zip OR looses sanctions already in place against said cardinal? It would seem, as far as present circumstances go, that Rome tries to point back to the local diocese, country, etc., and say, “Sorry, it was them!”

I would like to point out that it seems when there was a problem in Australia with a certain “conservative” cardinal, the American liberal publications were all pointing out that the Pontifical Secrets should be lifted per the suggestion of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Also, just two weeks before the McCarrick scandal hit, the National catholic Reporter posted this.Yet, now that their buddies have been implicated, they’ve fallen strangely silent. One of the last things they want now is for Pontifical Secrets to be revealed. It would likely implicate way too many of their hopes and dreams in this scandal. Double-standard?  Oh, yeah!

I highly doubt that Archbishop Vigano is going to escape sanctions over this without more bishops and cardinals calling for the remedy to canonical penalties against revealing Pontifical Secrets. Either way, though, I think he very consciously made the decision to give his testimony knowing full well that some want his head on a platter. He also did it knowing full well that the cat was out of the bag. It was a little too late to protect the Church from scandal. As Bishop Lopes and hundreds of others have said, EVERYONE knew but nobody did anything about it because the “powers that be” didn’t want anything done. There were even reprisals against anyone attempting to stop it.

Bishop Barber is the first leader I’ve seen, since all hell broke loose, calling for the “Pontifical Secrets” to be lifted on the cover-up scandal now rocking the Church, but every bishop and cardinal should follow his lead. Those who have the information need to see that this doesn’t mean they are facing the threat of excommunication should they reveal the truth. They take that threat very seriously, as good Catholics should, and nobody wants an all-out schism in the Church. By calling for an end to Pontifical Secrets in the cover-up scandal, Bishop Barber is strategically and lovingly trying to avoid this very real and possible outcome. Should they be lifted, I’m quite sure a whole lot more facts would come out keeping us from the same mistakes repeatedly, schism would be avoided, and truth will heal the Church’s ails. Let’s let the chips fall where they may.  If a bishop, cardinal, or even pope is afraid of the truth coming out at this point late into the scandal, they really need to ask themselves why? (Ahem, Cardinals Cupich and Tobin!)

As Bishop Barber so rightly stated:

We need to find out the truth. Only the truth will set us free. And only the pope can authorize the steps that need to be taken to find the truth.

#ReleasePontificalSecrets #OpenTheFiles

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Pontifical Secrets

  1. Disturbing the arg.. doc. Film on Bergoglio cover up of THREE seperate abuse cases in Arg…..Add to.that Vigano testimonial on advancent of Mc carrick by B. F. is disturbing beyond words .. …Plus advancement of Barros ,Maradiaga and Depaglia in Latin Amer. Then there is ,Daneels,Inzolio,and.Farrell in Europe plus Soto ,Mahoney and Mc carrick in Usa promoted AFTER B..f. and vatican was warned of.their deviancy and or cover ups beforehand .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tobin is on LifeSite’s list of Bishops who have called for an investigation. I wish my bishop would at least say that. So far he’s all about doing a Mass of Atonement, as if the Church as the Body of Christ, rather than the Hierarchy and the clergy aren’t the ones responsible for this mess. He’s till talking about the protection of children, instead of admitting that this is a problem concerning homosexuals, teenage boys and young men, a good number of them in seminaries. We can’t fix a problem we won’t acknowledge.

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