Italian Legislators Sign On Against BBC Program

Documentary on Abuse Is Hit as “Sensationalistic and False”

TURIN, Italy, MAY 27, 2007 ( Twenty members of the Italian Parliament joined in signing a statement asking that the directors of Italian public television not broadcast the BBC documentary “Sex Crimes and the Vatican.”

The program, first broadcast in Great Britain in October 2006, should not be shown “on a network that is supported by the tax money of all Italians,” the parliamentarians insisted.

The first signatory of the statement is Turin sociologist Massimo Introvigne, director of Center for Studies of the New Religions, who has for years been engaged in the study of the polemics in the United States over the child-abuse cases involving priests.

The signatories affirm that they are not against television broadcasts in which the “real and painful problem” of pedophile priests is dealt with in a serious way. But they ask that a “sensationalistic and false” documentary, whose material errors they list in detail, not be broadcast.

“For example,” Introvigne explains, “it is claimed that the 1962 Vatican instruction ‘Crimen Sollicitationis’ foresees the excommunication of the victims who report abuse, when exactly the contrary is true: Excommunication is threatened for those victims and others who have knowledge of this abuse and who do not immediately report it.”

According to the signatories, there are “very grave” falsehoods connected with the person of Benedict XVI.

The BBC documentary presents a letter that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger signed in 2001 as favoring pedophile priests, when, on the contrary, it promotes greater severity, and extends to the age of 20 the statute of limitations for the victim who was abused as a minor.

The documentary is, in sum, only “gossip,” making “sensationally false claims,” and guided by “ignorance,” the signatories contend.

“We can, indeed we must, confront the problem,” the signatories conclude, “and Benedict XVI himself said as much in his address to the Irish bishops on October 28, 2006. But truly it is not right to do this by slapping television viewers in the face with a garbage documentary.”

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