In a statement following the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Vatican observer Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said that most abusive clergy who committed such acts were not pedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.
The statement, read out by Archbishop Tomasi defended its record by claiming that “available research” showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.
He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.
The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would “be more correct” to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.
“Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17.”
The statement concluded: “As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”
The Holy See launched its counter-attack after an international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood, accused it of covering up child abuse and being in breach of several articles under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Porteous Wood said the Holy See had not contradicted any of his accusations.
“The many thousands of victims of abuse deserve the international community to hold the Vatican to account, something it has been unwilling to do, so far. Both states and children’s organisations must unite to pressurise the Vatican to open its files, change its procedures worldwide, and report suspected abusers to civil authorities,” Porteous-Wood told the Guardian.
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