At the heart of the Vatican's policy on child abuse was a document which equated it with any kind of gay sex whatsoever
I have been rereading the infamous Crimen Sollicitationis, the Vatican document from 1922 which laid down policy for cases of sex abuse, and which has been held up as evidence that there was a world-wide organised coverup of paedophilia. It's hardly gripping, which may be why until now I never made it through to the end. But it is worth persevering to Title Five, on crimen pessimum, because that casts the whole story in an entirely different light.
The crimen pessimum that the Vatican defines (the official translation is "the foulest crime") is not just child abuse and bestiality, though these are explicitly mentioned. But it is first defined to cover all forms of gay sex that a priest may have with anyone:
The term crimen pessimum ["the foulest crime"] is here understood to mean any external obscene act, gravely sinful, perpetrated or attempted by a cleric in any way whatsoever with a person of his own sex."
This is to be treated in exactly the same way as the crime of soliciting sex (or even flirting) in the confessional. The offenders are to be suspended from their sacramental duties, sacked from all their posts, and possibly defrocked as well. (para 61).
All these offences must be reported at once to the Holy Office (now the CDF) (para 66) under penalty of grave sin (para 70); and, should any priest convicted of them move to another diocese to preach, he must be reported at once to the authorities there so that he can be kept away from hearing confessions (para 69). The equivalent for a paedophile would of course be keeping him away from children.
Now, this isn't a policy of transparency, and it doesn't say anything, either way, about reporting cases to the civil authorities. So it won't answer to modern conditions. But it certainly isn't a licence to move abusive priests around and let them reoffend.
So why was it kept so secret? The answer may well be in the definition of crimen pessimum to cover all forms of gay sex whatsoever. If every instance of that misbehaviour had to be centrally reported the CDF would have been entirely overwhelmed.
The equation of gay men with paedophiles is repugnant; it is also unrealistic. There are far more gay men in the priesthood than paedophiles, or even ephebophiles. I doubt that the men who drew up the document can have realised this; but the Vatican is not full of fools, and someone, somewhere in there must have realised that the proposed policy was almost completely unworkable and seen that the document need not be enthusiastically promulgated.