Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vatican eats cake and dodges United Nations Child Sex Abuse Questions

With so much practice dodging questions about who in the catholic church is responsible for sexually abusing children it was easy for the vatican to do it again. On Tuesday the vatican dodged questions from a United Nations committee on clerical sexual abuse. The Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield who has followed vatican escapades in the past said that this time the Holy See claimed that it doesn’t control the actions of every Catholic in the world, and every Catholic priest, parish or school. They said that local bishops are ultimately responsible for keeping children safe from pedophile priests.

But the vatican flip flops:  whichever statement fits the purpose of the day is what you hear. In 2001, the vatican took over handling of abuse cases because it said that bishops were failing to do their jobs. Now they are back to insisting that the ultimate responsibility still lies with the bishops. But if the vatican doesn’t control them why does it fire bishops – at least some bishops: In July 2012 (Winfield, AP), the previous pope fired a Slovak bishop for mismanaging his diocese and other bishops in Australia the Congo and Italy who wanted the church to ordain women and married men. But would he fire bishops who covered up for sexually abusive priests asked Winfield?  We don’t see that happening.

Even while defending itself against lawsuits and accusations that it was church policies and a culture of secrecy that allowed thousands of children to be abused by priests over decades the vatican is still claiming that they were not to blame.

We can see how much they are not concerned about protecting children: the UN in 1989 implemented the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the main UN treaty guaranteeing a full range of human rights for children.  It wasn’t until 1990 that the Holy See endorsed the convention and they waited until 1994 to submit their first report on what they were doing to comply with the treaty. Then for almost a decade there were no reports. Finally, after media pressure due to the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and around the world they waited until last year and submitted one report.

So while children were continuing to be sexually abused, the vatican took its time. They actually said that the only country they are responsible for is the vatican state in the center of Rome where a total of 31 children under age 18 currently live. Given their lack of responsibility and history of child abuse there should be a law that no child should live that close to them.

David Clohessy of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) said that the vatican wants "to have their cake and eat it too" by changing their definition of the church, sometimes saying it was run from the top-down  and other times stating that only local dioceses have control over their employees.

"It's a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up," Clohessy said. "The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests."

Pope Francis: stop giving the faithful bread and circuses – give the children justice!