MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Mary Louise Kelly, in for Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Unidentified Man: (Italian spoken)
POGGIOLI: Unidentified Man: Don Giuseppe, Don Arrigo, Don Aliardo(ph), Don Giovanni...
POGGIOLI: Unidentified Man: Monsignor Giuseppe (Bleep)...
POGGIOLI: Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, says that was possible thanks to a long-entrenched code of silence.
ROBERT MICKENS: Up until now, the hierarchy in this country has been very, very powerful with the press, with the courts, in society in general, that they've only had to, you know, flex their authority and their friends would help make things go away.
POGGIOLI: Roberto Mirabile, president of an association that works on behalf of pedophilia victims, says cases of sex abuse by priests are known to have occurred in at least 30 Italian towns. But he acknowledges that victims hesitate to go public because they do not feel protected by civil authorities.
ROBERTO MIRABILE: (Through translator) Apologies are not sufficient. The church has to admit that the real problem is the code of silence and hypocrisy, not the individual pedophile priest. The problem is the silence of those bishops who transferred priests to other parishes to save the church's reputation.
POGGIOLI: The Vatican has gone on the defensive. Its official daily accused the international media of waging a smear campaign against the pope.
BENEDICT XVI: (Italian spoken)
POGGIOLI: Texas lawyer Daniel Shea first learned of the document when it was referred to in a letter written by the future Pope Benedict. He considers it the smoking gun.
DANIEL SHEA: We have obstruction of justice. This demonstrates with absolute certainty that the church considers the absolution of a priest who's abused a child to be part of the course and scope of the bishop's employment. These are crimes against humanity.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.
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