As the Vatican is learning
A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of coverup.
The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.
The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church's right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
Please, Vatican, try to explain that one away as "an exception" or "a rogue priest". The fact is that the more that these things become visible to the public, the more set in the public's mind will be the image of the priesthood as a refuge for pedophiles, and the Church as their primary enabler.
Really, the best thing the Catholic Church could do right now for itself - and its victims - is issue a very lengthy "Mea Culpa", along with every last document related to their appalling handling of child molestation since the 1950s - and start negotiating settlements with their victims. Anything less shows the organization to be no better than those it covered up for so long.