The Observer | International
The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.
It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.
'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.
Nobody expects the Papal Inquisition...