MINNEAPOLIS – An old letter from the Vatican has surfaced that many say is the smoking gun, the strongest indication yet the Church tried to cover up the crimes of pedophile priests.
As an altar boy, Bob Swiderski was repeatedly sexually abused by a priest in Hector, Minnesota in the early 1960s. Now, he believes there’s proof the Catholic Church tried to cover up the crimes of pedophile priests.
“What I’ve been saying for 20-plus years is that they’re not telling the truth,” Swiderski said. “They are creating hurdles and this just comes back and proves what my thoughts and my voice has been saying.”
While making a documentary about the priest sexual abuse scandal in Ireland, a TV crew found a secret document from the Vatican to Irish bishops in the late 1990s.
The letter says the Vatican has “serious reservations” about reporting cases of abuse to police, and that if the bishops’ proposals were followed, the results could be “highly embarrassing and detrimental” to the Church and the bishops themselves.
The Vatican says the letter has been “deeply misunderstood” by the media, and it was meant to make sure bishops followed Church law to the letter when disciplining priests, so they couldn’t escape punishment on technical grounds.
But attorney Mike Finnegan, who works with well-known church abuse lawyer Jeffrey Anderson, says the letter is the smoking gun that shows the Vatican is legally responsible for concealing crimes by pedophile priests.
“What this document really shows is that is it the Vatican and the Pope have controlled the bishops and controlled everything that has gone on with priests that have sexually abused kids,” Finnegan said.
Wile some believe the letter will strengthen U.S. lawsuits against the Vatican, Swiderski hopes it prompts others who have been abused by priests to step out of the darkness and into the light.