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Child and youth sexual abuse by clergy

Child & youth sexual abuse in the
Catholic Church, 2014-JAN to now.

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This topic is a continuation of an earlier essay.

2014-JAN-16: The Vatican is grilled by a United Nations committee for sex abuse:

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 1989-NOV-20 and came into effect on 1990-SEP-02. Countries that have ratified the Convention are required to submit a report two years after ratification -- and subsequently every five years -- that explains how it has implemented the Convention in their country.

Every country that is a member of the United Nations has ratified the Convention except for:

  • Somolia, which has been lacking an effective a central government. They recently announced plans to ratify the Convention.

  • Southern Sudan, which is a newly created country. Its Parliament has passed a bill to ratify the Convention.

  • The United States -- who had taken an active role in the preparation of the document -- has signed the Convention but has not ratified it. The government was pressured by religious conservatives who objected to some of the rights given to children, and the Convention's prohibition of the use of physical violence against children. 1

The Vatican had ratified the Convention in 1990. However, it has been negligent in its duties to provide reports to the U.N. for the past two decades.

The Vatican was grilled by a UN Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on 2014-JAN-17. At least two main media sources described the Vatican representatives as coming under a "blistering attack:"

  • The committee's main human rights investigator, Sara Oviedo, asked that why -- given the Vatican's "zero tolerance" policy -- has the Vatican made "efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases?"

  • Pychologist Maria Rita Parsi asked: "If these events continue to be hidden and covered up, to what extent will children be affected?"

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, responded with a novel argument:

"Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican. Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."

The Committee was able to cite investigations from Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland and the U.S. that revealed that the Vatican discouraged bishops to not report abuse to the authorities.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the former Vatican sex crimes prosecutor, admitted that the Vatican had not responded to the crisis quickly enough, but said that it is now committed to doing so. He said:

"The Holy See gets it. Let's not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently. I think the international community looks up to the Holy See for such guidance. But it's not only words, it has to be commitment on the ground."

Many readers of the NBC news article posted 5 pages of comments to the article. Many of them attacked the UN, Muslims, the U.S. Government, all religions, etc. However, a few tackled the Vatican's problem:

  • Lady Cat: "I am not a fan of the Catholic Church nor am I a fan of the UN. Yhat said, before the UN starts criticising Western religious organizations they had better take a look at all the countries with religious and civil discrimination going on. It seems that only the West gets their attention while countries in Africa and the Middle East have constant issues with equal rights that they turn their heads and look away."

  • New Gawker: "As long as the church continues to protect it's pedophiles it will stay in the news. You may think this is old news but to the children who were raped by priests it's never old news. Especially since all the priests and their protectors are still living free."

  • MM from WA: "It's completely disingenuous to claim that priests aren't employees of the Vatican, particularly when the whole reason for covering up the sex abuse was to protect the image of the Catholic Church.

I hope the new Pope takes action and starts cleaning house. The fact that he just dumped four out of five Cardinals associated with the Vatican's bank gives me some hope that he's willing to make some real changes to the church."

  • Tom-366615: "'The Holy See gets it,' Scicluna said. 'Let's not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently.'

    1: The Holy See doesn't get it. The coverups continue to be uncovered. The lessons of Watergate (and a hundred other scandals) are being ignored: bad enough to do it but far, far worse to cover it up. A politically motivated break-in is an order of magnitude easier to forgive than the rape of a child, but to cover up either act expands and confirms the guilty party's guilt beyond doubt. You don't hide what you've done right.

    2: No, Monsignor, let's just say "too late." Period. Which is not to say the Vatican and the hierarchy can't change; but nothing, up to and including a new Pope whose intentions appear to be the best, will change until the old order changeth. The damage has been doubly done: children's lives (and those of their families and their congregations, just for starters) have been ruined and the public perception of the church as a refuge from the world - a better place, so to speak - has been destroyed by the Church itself. 'Certain things' indeed 'need to be done differently' but are not being done nor will they be as long as the enemies of the Roman Catholic Church are not outside the walls but within. Until that changes, nothing else will." 2

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2014-JAN-20: Numbers of priests removed for sexual abuse of non-adults:

Data from an internal Vatican confidential document intended to defend the Vatican before the UN Committee in Geneva was leaked to the Associated Press who released it to the world's media. The data includes information on the number of priests who have been defrocked. The data indicates that:

  • 171 priests were removed during 2008 and 2009, either as a result of accusations of sexual abuse or because the priests asked to be released..

  • Almost 384 were removed during 2011 and 2012. During 2011, 125 were defrocked as a result of allegtions of sexual abuse, and 135 voluntarily resigned.During 2012, 57 priests were defrocked as a result of accusations and 67 resigned.

During 2001, when Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Ratzinger and headed the the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he created a new policy in which bishops were required to send information to the Congregation whenever a member of the clergy was suspected of sexually abusing non-adults. The Congregation then determined whether the priest would be subject to a church administrative process or a church trial. One of the main complaints by victims of sexual abuse has been that the bishops placed the church's own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement. The most serious penalty imposed on a perpetrator was to be defrocked -- removed from the clerical state. There were no jail terms and nothing in place to present future abuse. 3,4

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Sadly, future information on this topic is inevitable.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. "US ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child," Wikipedia, as on 2013-DEC-16, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. "UN slams Vatican for 'efforts to cover up' pedophile priests in sex abuse scandal," NBC News, 2013-JAN-16, at: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/
  3. "Vatican defrocked 400 priests for molesting children," The Telegraph, 2014-JAN-17, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
  4. "Vatican: Nearly 400 priests defrocked in two years," CNN, 2012-JAN-17, at: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

Portions copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-JAN-18
Latest update: 2014-JAN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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