The Vatican on Thursday confirmed the authenticity of a 2001 letter published by French website Golias in which Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos congratulates French bishop Pierre Pican for not reporting a sexually abusive priest to the police.
In the letter, dated September 8, 2001, Castrillon, then a clergy prefect, backed Pican’s decision to not report the priest, who was later sentenced to eighteen years in jail for the rape of a boy and the sexual assault of ten others.
“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” the now-Medellin cardinal wrote in the letter. “You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son-priest.”
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the letter confirmed “how opportune it was to centralize treatment of cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
The letter is the lastest in a series of church documents published recently that suggest the Vatican encouraged the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests.
Last Friday a Colombian Catholic priest was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old altar boy.