I know colleague Maureen Fiedler has already picked up on the significance of the piece just posted about secrecy in the Vatican justice system, so excuse the repetition, but the issue gets to the heart of the "how" such a tale of deceit at the highest levels of the church could run its course for so long.
RNS writer Daniel Burke, who has reported and written in a compelling manner in the past about the helplessness that accused priests can experience when subjected to the impenetrable legal processes of the Vatican, has authored another piece here that gives the perspective from the accuser’s side.
Though Burke’s accounts are examples of the highest level of serious and understated reporting, the point that comes screaming through in each instance – especially at a time when high level churchmen are desperate to convince the world that the church wants to be transparent – is how obviously opaque the system is.
And while the symptom that has prompted the examination of these systems is the sex abuse crisis, what is being exposed for better or worse is the culture underlying the problem. It is a culture of secrecy designed ostensibly to protect the reputations and good names of those involved. Such rules not only accomplish the opposite – keeping accused and accusers in a legal limbo and under suspicion with no access to information – but makes clear in this otherwise cloudy world, that the real benefit is that the institution is protected from outside scrutiny.