Clerical Whispers reports on the momentous news.
Four American victims of priestly sex abuse were detained by police just outside St. Peter's Square while protesting what they call a "Vatican cover-up" of clergy pedophilia. The arrests reflect a growing voice of anger within the Catholic Church and the police response suggests a growing concern about security at the Vatican.
Barbara Blaine, Peter Isely, John Pilmaier and Barbara Dorris from the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) had summoned journalists for a “sidewalk news conference” just a few meters from the unmarked border between Italy and the Vatican City, the smallest independent country in the world.
They were holding signs reading “Stop the Secrecy Now” and childhood photos that showed them at the age they were first abused.
They challenged the Vatican to open up the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the arm of the Vatican that upholds matters of doctrine and the place of power from which the current pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, served Pope John Paul II for more than 20 years. Bishops from all over the world must report priests accused of sex crimes to that body. [...]
After about 15 minutes, plainclothes Italian policemen approached the news conference and began asking attendees for identification. After about 20 minutes the police urged the activists to end their improvised press conference. Then the activists were taken into unmarked police cars and driven to a nearby police station, where they were held for two hours.
“They wouldn't tell us why, at first. In the end, they told us that it was illegal to hold an unauthorized press conference,” Dorris said. “They took our passports and didn't let us use our phones.” Their photos and signs were also confiscated.