3Victims/survivors need to know the truth, while the sources of the truth are still available. Preventingthis adds to the agony, and violates justice and charity. Also, t
he priestly promise of obedience to one’s
bishop never trumps justice or validates evil.Our Catechism teaches that truth stands at the heart of authentic human action and speech (cf.Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC]
2468). Indeed, followers of Christ are to “live in the truth” (CCC
2470; cf. 1 Jn. 1:6). Only by living in the truth, the complete truth, can human action and speechgenerate justice and healing. Without truth there can be no justice and without justice, no healing.
Third Urgency: What impedes the revelation of the truth?
Here are my top five picks.
The Cardinals’ Oath
. This is an oath taken by each new cardinal as he is about to receive his redbiretta. Here is a key portion of that Oath as spoken by Cardinal Timothy Dolan and 21 othernew car
dinals on February 18, 2012: “I, N., Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, promise and
swear, from this day forth and as long as I live
not to make known to anyone mattersentrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to theHoly Church
(To find the full text o
f the Cardinals’ Oath, go to this
on “Booklet for the Celebration”. Cardinal Dolan is listed on page 6, # 16. The full text of the Cardinals’
Oath is on page 20 (English).)
Surely, this oath contributes to the crisis. In other words, if the cardinals promise to be silent,and if other bishops follow their example, can truth and justice ever be served? Can this crisisever be resolved? Also, do all bishops take an oath
similar to the Cardinals’ Oath
? Secrecy mustnot reign. The Pope needs to release the cardinals from this oath and secrecy, and require themand all the bishops to speak the complete truth. Indeed, their speaking openly and honestlywould provide a relational involvement that would foster healing.2.
Attorney-Client Privilege. Regardless when the crimes were reported, at least by the late 1980sbishops were becoming aware of an increasing number of allegations against priests. Accordingto the John Jay report cited above, not only were some bishops very slow to respond to the
building crisis, some dioceses “where the Catholic Church was highly influential were slow to
recognize the importance of the problem of sexual abuse by priests or to respond to the
(John Jay Report cited above, p. 4, right-hand column)
So, what advice did the attorneysgive? Did they help to shape the strategies used by bishops?The attorney-client privilege means that an attorney cannot divulge information provided by aclient. But, the client holds the privilege and can waive the privilege, thus releasing the attorneyfrom that restriction, either totally or partially. Consequently, if each diocesan bishop would