John Allen at NCR has this bombshell of a report in which the Vatican seriously distanced themselves from Columbian Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, who according to reports praised a Bishop for refusing to report a priest who abused a child.

In effect, the Vatican statement suggests that Castrillón Hoyos was part of the problem which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, eventually solved.

The letter, first published by the French Catholic publication Golias, is addressed to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux, France, who was eventually sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to report a French priest, Fr. René Bissey, who was convicted in October 2000 for sexual abuse of eleven minor boys between 1989 and 1996.

Castrillón Hoyos’s letter congratulates Pican for not repoting Bissey to the French police and civil authorities. In the version published by Golias, it reads: “I rejoice to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and all the others bishops of the world, preferred prison rather than denouncing one of his sons, a priest.”

Tonight’s Vatican statement suggests that Castrillón Hoyos’s attitude was part of the reason that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, pressed for a more aggressive policy on the removal of predator priests.

In effect the then Cardinal Ratzinger was the one who instituted much of the reforms with regards to sexual abuse and Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos opposed those reforms saying that it ignored the idea that priests could be reformed and are in need of forgiveness.

The latter I’d agree with but the former is psychologically impossible.

If you’re looking for a fall guy for the sexual abuse crisis, look for more guys like this. Because it’s pretty telling when the Vatican decides not to defend one of their own Bishops.