Houston Lawyer Says Secret Document Could Shake up Church

By Darren Lyn
ABC13 Eyewitness News
Downloaded August 5, 2003

(8/04/03 - HOUSTON) A Houston lawyer has discovered a 40-year-old document supposedly explaining how to deal with sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Some say the document is a cover-up for the church. Houston attorney Daniel Shea says this document could shake the foundation of the Catholic Church.

He says he received it from a clergyman in Germany who has close dealings with the Vatican. And he believes this could be the smoking gun that could prove every Catholic diocese in the world was under direct order from the Vatican to keep allegations of sexual abuse a secret.

"And I'm saying, my God, what has happened to the Catholic Church?" exclaimed Shea.

Houston attorney Daniel Shea says a document from the Vatican dated back to 1962 calls for secret hearings within the clergy to deal with any accusations against the priesthood about sexual abuse of a minor.

Shea said, "It explains how it is that you can have an internal church trial, in which you can never convict a priest. The thing is rigged."

The very first instruction on the document says "this text is to be diligently stored in the secret archives of the curia as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries."

"The oath says that everyone who participates in this proceeding has to keep this under threat of excommunication," explained Shea.

Shea says the document acknowledges sexual abuse of a minor as a crime, and says current documents from the Catholic Church still refer to these secret hearings.

"They understand fully that this is criminal conduct, yet they're hiding it by conducting secret church trials," he said.

We asked the Diocese of Galveston-Houston to respond to the latest revelation of this document.

"Bishop Fiorenza says he has no knowledge of this 1962 document, he has no recollection of it," said Annette Taylor. "This was 40 years ago, and he was not even a Bishop at that time."

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says the 1962 document is only type-specific to what happens during the sacrament of confession, in which what is told to a priest is kept confidential. However, Daniel Shea says this could be the beginning of a plethora of criminal suits against the Catholic Church.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.