Four Important Questions for Tom Doyle

[NOTE: This open letter was sent to Tom Doyle, June 29, 2018, with copies sent to many survivors.]

Dear Fr. Doyle,

I regret that I will not attend the SNAP Conference this year, as I wanted to personally ask you to explain a few things that still puzzle me about your early role in the crisis. I would have preferred to have done it publicly there as doubtless your answers would be of great interest to supporters and survivors, not to mention history, and thus deserve as large a forum as possible. Email will have to suffice instead.

1. You have described part of your job at the Nunciature in the early 1980s as keeping the Vatican informed about the Gauthe case, and you’ve even mentioned a briefing you once gave Cardinal Silvio Oddi, head of the Congregration for the Clergy. You also stated that Pope John Paul II was fully aware of what was going by late 1984. But you’ve never, as far as I know, mentioned any communications whatsoever that you shared with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He started his job as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the same year as you began work at the Nunciature, as you know. His remarkable statement that Crimen Sollicitationis was in effect until 2001 should imply that as Prefect, he was concerned about clergy sex abuse from the very start. Plus, the Prefect would be the ideal conduit to the pope for the information you collected. What was the extent of Cardinal Ratzinger’s involvement at that time, and why have you never said anything at all about it?

2. You have stated that no one ever asked or ordered you, Mouton, and Peterson to write the Manual. Yet given your posting at the time, it truly beggars belief that the Manual could have been conceived, composed, and presented to the bishops without the knowledge and blessing of anyone in the Vatican, which should have been a great help in getting it adopted, after all. How and why did such an unusual situation come about, and why did you proceed anyway?

3. You have said on many occasions that canonical remedies, such as Crimen Sollicitationis, had proven ineffective and that it is unlikely that during the scandals many bishops even knew it existed. Were you aware back then that Crimen Sollicitationis was supposedly still in effect, and why was no reminder to the bishops of this fact ever issued by anyone?

4. Finally, I was surprised to learn that you were the source of Crimen Sollicitationis which appeared in the news media in 2003. The timing is certainly curious as it  strengthened the growing impression that the bishops were a bunch of clueless idiots. Yet though Crimen Sollicitationis had been superseded for two years already, I believe the document should still have been covered by the highest levels of pontifical secrecy. But you never faced any negative repercussions at all for releasing it. Assuming, of course, you were in good standing as you still are, how did you get a dispensation or authorization to release Crimen Sollicitationis, from whom, and why?

I sincerely hope you will openly clarify these bothersome issues. Along with this letter, any replies and comments will be posted at Clergy Victims Memorial. Unfortunately, should you choose not to respond or are unable to due to your instructions or for any other reason, I shall have little choice but to conclude along the lines of St. Thomas More’s famous dictum that “silence implies consent.”

In any case, I sincerely thank you for your time and consideration of these matters.


+Jay Nelson