Vatican doesn’t like its dirty washing aired on its doorstep

A Vatican-controlled newspaper has hit out at bloggers last week after they posted a BBC documentary alleging a Church cover-up on child sex abuse. The paper condemned the translated and subtitled programme as “slander”.

The documentary was shown in Britain in October, but never in Italy. The bloggers translated it and it now ranks as Google Video Italia’s ( ) most popular item. “We did the patient work of translating and subtitling it to fill this shameful gap,” the posters wrote.

The newspaper Avvenire, which is owned by the Italian Conference of Roman Catholic bishops, slammed the web version in a front-page editorial headlined “Infamous Slander Via Internet.”

The BBC documentary examined what it described as a secret document written in 1962 that set out a procedure for dealing with child sexual abuse within the Church. It imposed an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest and any witness, a policy the BBC documentary said was meant to protect the priest’s reputation during the investigation but “can offer a blueprint for cover-up.”

Avvenire called the documentary “a pot-pourri of affirmations and pseudo-testimony that were at the time publicly repudiated” for being false and misleading.

The Roman Catholic Church has been hit in numerous countries, including the United States and Ireland, by massive lawsuits and allegations of sex abuse by priests. British Catholic bishops last year also tried to blame the BBC for “smearing” them rather than answering the criticism. At the time of the British showing, a Church spokesman said that the BBC should be “ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict.” (“Benedict” is the stage name assumed by former Hitler youth member Joseph Ratzinger).

We notice that Cardinal Murphy O’Connor has not been interviewed on this topic by the BBC since a grilling on the Today programme some years ago. We suspect that the BBC have succumbed to pressure that it will never cross examine him again on his role in the cover-up of the activities of Michael Hill, a serially-offending paedophile priest.