"You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."Bishop Pican received a 3 month prison sentence rather than denounce one of his priests for molesting a child. This took place in 2001. Father Lombardi has distanced the Holy See from the Cardinals remarks, saying this why it was necessary that that year, 2001, such cases were removed from the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Clergy, of which the Cardinal was head, to the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger.
For many bishops and priests prior to 2001 the Cardinal's words would have been seen as quite normal, a decade on things have changed dramatically. The change has brought about a drastic alteration in the relationship between bishops and priests, and consequently between priest and his people. In the past the relationship was indeed that of "father and son", in the last 10 years it has moved in many instances to employer and employee. Consequently there is a distancing between priests and their bishop, to some extant a breakdown in trust.. In the past bishops saw themselves as having a profound spiritual relationship with their priests, conversations were in the best situations the same as those with one's spititual director, which had at its root the confidentiality of the confessional.
The bishop, and priests too, were the keepers of secrets. The bishop would see his role to advise, even to command in the name of obedience but what he would not do was to break confidences or act any way that might detract from someone's character.
Nowadays a priest who is told by about child abuse, at least outside of confession, would be expected to report the offence himself, which means few people would consider admitting the offence. In the past both in the confessional, and outside of it, he, ideally, would have advised the victim to report the offence and the perpetrator to seek help, even to turn himself in but rarely would he have seen himself as taking any positive action that might betray confidentiality.