Crimen sollicitationis (Latin: crime of solicitation) is the title of a 1962 document ("Instruction") of the Holy Office codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament ofPenance to make sexual advances to penitents.
Applicability and scope
Canon law on cases of solicitation in confession
Canon 904. Ad normam constitutionum apostolicarum et nominatim constitutionis Benedicti XIV Sacramentum Poenitentiae, 1 Iun. 1741, debet poenitens sacerdotem, reum delicti sollicitationis in confessione, intra mensem denuntiare loci Ordinario, vel Sacrae Congregationi S. Officii; et confessarius debet, graviter onerata eius conscientia, de hoc onere poenitentem monere.
Canon 2368 §1. Qui sollicitationis crimen de quo in can. 904, commiserit, suspendatur a celebratione Missae et ab audiendis sacramentalibus confessionibus vel etiam pro delicti gravitate inhabilis ad ipsas excipiendas declaretur, privetur omnibus beneficiis, dignitatibus, voce activa et passiva, et inhabilis ad ea omnia declaretur, et in casibus gravioribus degradationi quoque subiiciatur
Canon 904. In accordance with the apostolic constitutions, in particular the constitution Sacramentum Poenitentiae of Benedict XIV of 1 June 1741, a penitent must within one month denounce to the local Ordinary or the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office a priest guilty of the crime of solicitation in confession; and a confessor must, under a grave obligation of conscience, inform a penitent of this duty.
Canon 2368 §1. Anyone who has committed the crime of solicitation dealt with in canon 904 is to be suspended from celebrating Mass and hearing sacramental confessions and, if the gravity of the crime calls for it, he is to be declared unfit for hearing them; he is to be deprived of all benefices and ranks, of the right to vote or be voted for, and is to be declared unfit for all of them, and in more serious cases he is to be reduced to the lay state.
Outline of the letter Crimen sollicitationis
- Preliminaries (sections 1-14)
- Title One: First intimation of the crime (15-28)
- Title Two: The trial (29-60)
- Chapter I: Investigation (29-41)
- Chapter II: Canonical regulations and cautioning of the accused (42-46)
- Chapter III: Summoning the accused (47-54)
- Chapter IV: Conduct of the trial, verdict and appeal (55-60)
- Title Three: Penalties (61-65)
- Title Four: Official communication (66-70)
- Title Five: The most evil crime (71-74)
- Approval by Pope John XXIII on 16 March 1962
- Formula A: oath of office
- Formula B: abjuration of errors
- Formula C: absolution from excommunication
- Formula D: delegating a person to receive a denunciation
- Formula E: receiving a denunciation
- Formula F: delegating a person to examine witnesses
- Formula G: full examination of a witness (about the priest and the accuser)
- Formula H: partial examination of a witness (about the accuser only)
- Formula I: general examination of the accuser
- Formula L: conclusions and proposal of the Promoter of Justice
- Formula M: decision of the Local Ordinary
- Formula N: admonition of the accused
- Formula O: decree of arraignment
- Formula P: examination of the accused
- Formula Q: conclusions and proposal of the Promoter of Justice
- Formula R: sentencing a convicted accused person who denies guilt
- Formula S: sentencing a convicted accused person who admits guilt
- Formula T: communication of the sentence to the accused
- if the accusation appeared to be unfounded, this was stated in the record and the documents containing the accusation were destroyed;
- if only vague evidence emerged, the case was filed away for use if fresh evidence appeared;
- if the evidence was strong but insufficient for arraigning the accused, he was given an admonition and the records were preserved with a view to any further developments;
- if the evidence was strong enough, the accused person was summoned and a canonical trial took place.
Quoniam vero quod in hisce causis tractandis maiorem in modum curari et observari debet illud est ut eaedem secretissime peragantur et, postquam fuerint definitae et executioni iam traditae, perpetuo silentio premantur (Instr. Sancti Officii, 20 febr. 1867, n. 14); omnes et singuli ad tribunal quomodocumque pertinentes vel propter eorum officium ad rerum notitiam admissi arctissimum secretum, quod secretum Sancti Officii communiter audit, in omnibus et cum omnibus, sub poena excommunicationis latae sententiae, ipso facto et absque alia declaratione incurrendae atque uni personae Summi Pontificis, ad exclusionem etiam Sacrae Poenitentiariae, reservatae, inviolabiliter servare tenentur.
As, assuredly, what must be mainly taken care of and complied with in handling these trials is that they be managed with maximum confidentiality and after the verdict is declared and put into effect never be mentioned again (20 February 1867 Instruction of the Holy Office, 14), each and every person, who in any way belongs to the tribunal or is given knowledge of the matter because of their office, is obliged to keep inviolate the strictest secrecy (what is commonly called "the secrecy of the Holy Office") in all things and with all persons, under pain of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, incurred ipso facto without need of any declaration other than the present one, and reserved to the Supreme Pontiff in person alone, excluding even the Apostolic Penitentiary.
... Spondeo, voveo ac iuro, inviolabile secretum me servaturum in omnibus et singulis quae mihi in praefato munere exercendo occurrerint, exceptis dumtaxat iis quae in fine et expeditiones [recte: expeditione] huius negotii legitime publicari contingat ... neque unquam directe vel indirecte, nutu, verbo, scriptis, aut alio quovis modo et sub quocumque colorato praetextu, etiam maioris boni aut urgentissimae et gravissimae causae, contra hanc secreti fidem quidquam commissurum, nisi peculiaris facultas aut dispensatio expresse mihi a Summo Pontifice tributa fuerit.
… I do promise, vow and swear that I will maintain inviolate secrecy about each and every thing brought to my knowledge in the performance of my aforesaid function, excepting only what may happen to be lawfully published when this process is concluded and put into effect … and that I will never directly or indirectly, by gesture, word, writing or in any other way, and under any pretext, even that of a greater good or of a highly urgent and serious reason, do anything against this fidelity to secrecy, unless special permission or dispensation is expressly granted to me by the Supreme Pontiff.
Involvement of the Holy See
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