Press Releases: 09/01/10

CNN (1)

‘What the Pope Knew’ Reported by CNN’s Gary Tuchman

Investigative documentary exploring pope’s role in managing the child sexual abuse crisis – debuts Saturday, September 25at 8:00pm ET & PT on CNN/U.S. and CNN International

During his first papal visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI reached out to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, unprecedented for the Vatican. He became the first pope to directly and personally apologize to victims for their trauma. He was the first to acknowledge publicly that the Church had systemically erred in the way that it had transferred offending priests to new parishes, putting more children at risk, instead of reporting offenders to law enforcement. A new era of accountability seemed to have dawned.

But Benedict’s role in managing the child sex abuse scandal while he was Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and as a powerful cardinal at the Vatican, has now come under scrutiny. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman reports for What the Pope Knew, investigating some of the most notorious pedophile priest cases in the United States and finds that the pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, had direct responsibility for how they were handled. CNN’s investigation reveals that Ratzinger opposed or slowed down the defrocking of some priests, including convicted child molesters.

What the Pope Knew debuts Saturday, Sept. 25 at 8:00pm ET and PT on CNN and CNN International.

Conflicting portraits of the former Joseph Ratzinger have emerged. While defenders of this pope insist he has done more than any other church authority to change the Vatican’s policies and, apologize for the abuses. Others point out that he has been in positions of power for nearly 30 years and could have done more.
“Joseph Ratzinger was not and is not the villain of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in no way shape or form. Yet, he’s not the hero either. He was part of the culture,” says David Gibson, the pope’s biographer, in the documentary.

The documentary features insights from Vatican insiders and internal church documents about abusive priests. It also features a rare interview with the “Vatican’s prosecutor,” Charles Scicluna, as well as an exclusive interview with the first victim to personally sue Pope Benedict. CNN’s investigationis a complex portrait of the pope; while he seemed to move with rapidity to discipline priests whose values he felt strayed too far from Catholic orthodoxy, his delays and deliberations on even the most egregious of the child abuse cases baffles and infuriates those waiting for justice.
Pieces will accompany the documentary on CNN’s Belief blog at

Brian Rokus and Scott Bronstein are producers for What the Pope Knew. Kathy Slobogin is managing editor for CNN’s Special Investigations and Documentaries unit. Scott Matthews is the executive producer.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively-syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.

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