Crimen sollicitationis

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Crimen sollicitationis was a 1962 decree issued by the Vatican that laid out the procedures for dealing with Roman Catholic priests who solicit sex from parish congregants during confession. It was also used as the instruction manual for investigating child sexual abuse by priests. This updated a similar decree issued in 1922.[1]

Written in Latin, the Crimen was sent to every diocese around the world, where it was locked away from all eyes except for those priests who were commissioned with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by priests. Instead of using the Crimen to punish and dismiss priests, diocese investigators used it to silence the accusers.[2] Section 11 of the Crimen required that all testimony given in such cases be sealed. Anyone caught discussing the testimony at these tribunals was to be excommunicated. This may even include the victims of the abuse and their parents, families, and friends.[3]

Although the Vatican stopped enforcing the Crimen in 2001, many abuse victims are still afraid of being excommunicated if they discuss their cases. During the last 20 years that the Crimen was enforced, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — later Pope Benedict XVI — was the edict's lead enforcer.[4]

External links[edit]

  • See the Wikipedia article on Crimen sollicitationis.
  • Video: "Sex Crimes and the Vatican" — From the BBC news magazine Panorama. Discusses the abuse case in Ireland that led to the public discovery of the Crimen sollicitationis. (29 September 2006 — 39 minutes)
  • Spanish leftist ska-punk band ska-p made a song about the infamous document where they sharply criticize the Catholic Church.


  1. Thomas Doyle, The 1922 Instruction and the 1962 Instruction "Crimen Sollicitationis," Promulgated by the Vatican, 2008
  2. Johann Hari, "The Pope, the Prophet, and the religious support for evil", The Independent, 2010.
  3. INSTRUCTION On the Manner of Proceeding in Causes involving the Crime of Solicitation. The victims, parents, families, and friends are, presumably, covered by the phrase "... those delegated, questioned or informed ..."
  4. Transcript of "Sex crimes and the Vatican", a BBC documentary.