A secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child
sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church is examined by
Crimen Sollicitationis was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope.
It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse
against priests and has been seen by few outsiders.
Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex
Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to
Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in
the church safe.
It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the
confessional. It also deals with "any obscene external act ... with
youths of either sex."
It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest
dealing with the allegation and any witnesses.
Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.
Reporting for Panorama, Colm O'Gorman finds seven priests with child
abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican
One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13
molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States.
During filming for Sex Crimes and the Vatican, Colm finds
Father Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of
this religious order in the Vatican.
The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the
charges against him.
After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but
fled the headquarters and is believed to be hiding in Italy while
there is an international warrant for his arrest.
Colm O'Gorman was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns
in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old.
Father Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent
assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys
but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial.
Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led
to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the
Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns
It was published in October 2005 and found:
"A culture of secrecy
and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the
Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children."
The Catholic Church has 50 million children in its worldwide
congregation and no universal child protection policy although in
the UK there is the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children &
In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the
only policy followed.
The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond
to any of the cases shown in the film.
Sex crimes and the Vatican will be broadcast on Sunday 1 October at
2215 BST on BBC One and on this website where it will then be
offered on demand.
If you are affected by any of the issues in the programme and would
like to talk to someone in confidence for further information and
support, please call the BBC Action Line on 08000 933 193. Lines
will open at 2300 on Sunday 1 October for a week and may be busy but
the Action Line is open seven days a week, from 0730 until 0000. All
calls are free and confidential.