2001 Ratzinger Document Reaffirms Secrecy in Priest Sex Abuse Cases

In a letter dated May 18, 2001, then Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter to all the bishops of the world reaffirming the Church’s operational secrecy concerning accusations of priestly sexual abuse. In the secret document, Ratzinger states that the proper forum for such cases is the Vatican. In demanding adherence to secrecy regarding sex abuse by priests, Ratzinger reminds the bishops that the penalty for disobedience to his directive is excommunication.