United Nations child protection experts are cracking down on Vatican delegates regarding how Roman Catholic officials handled the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by bishops and priests, saying they still need to speak up and reveal more information in order to prosecute the sexual perpetrators.
According to Reuters,
"the officials, called to account for the first time since the Holy See
signed the U.N. children's rights charter in 1990, argued that the
Church recognized the problem and had drawn up clear guidelines to
protect children from predator priests.
"But members of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and abuse victims attending the session in Geneva
(Jan. 13- 31) demanded far more transparency on a scandal that has
hounded the Church for more than two decades in countries from Ireland
view of committee is that the best way to prevent abuses is to reveal
old ones -- openness instead of sweeping offences under the carpet,"
Kirsten Sandberg, chairwoman of the 18-strong U.N. committee, told the
"It seems to date your procedures are not very transparent."
Victims Speak Out
Miguel Hurtado, a Spaniard abused by his parish priest said: "Transparency
is a very powerful tool when you are doing the right thing. When you
have something to hide, you hide behind words and are not forthcoming
with facts and details because facts and details are not on your side,"
he told Reuters TV.
less than a year Pope Francis has changed the image of the Church by
preaching tolerance and wading into crowds to embrace the sick. Few
doubt his sincerity. But there's one area in which the Church hasn't
changed in image or substance: its stance on child sex abuse by the
clergy," said David Clohessy in a Survivors Network of Those Abused by
Priests (SNAP) post.
Blaine, president of SNAP, which has 15,000 U.S. members and 4,000
foreign members since being launched 25 years ago, said the Vatican
response fell far short of what victims wanted.
"What we want to see is the Vatican punish bishops who covered up sex
crimes and we want them to turn over information they have about crimes
to police," she said.
need clerics to lobby for, not against, local laws protecting children
from sexual predators. They need the Church to make public every
document or scrap of paper concerning a credible accusation of sexual
abuse. They need the Church to be completely open and honest on the
issue of clergy abuse. They need the Church to change. No matter how
sincere, more expressions of regret in Geneva won't stop pedophile
priests today any more than it undoes the abuse of the past," added
Clohessy in a SNAP post.
"It's great news that an independent group, the U.N. committee, is
finally examining the issue of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
The only better news would be if Pope Francis extended his compassion
toward the sick and disenfranchised to the victims. And the best way to
do that is for the pope and the Church to hold accountable those who
sexually abused children or participated in its cover-up, and to release
all internal documents concerning the abuse."
adds that "Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Vatican delegation,
said in his opening remarks the Church had set clear procedures
'designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with
respective state authorities to fight this crime.'
"Committee expert Sara De Jesus Oviedo Fierro contested this view,
saying the Holy See had "not established any mechanism to investigate
perpetrators of sexual abuse and to prosecute them".
Pope Francis' Reaction
On Jan. 16, Pope Francis told worshippers at morning Mass in the
Vatican that abuse scandals had "cost us a lot of money, but (paying
damages) is only right." He said bishops, priests and lay people were
responsible for this "shame of the Church."
"Victims accuse bishops of covering up crimes and switching priests
to other parishes to avoid prosecution. Courts have ordered dioceses to
pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, bankrupting a string of
them in the United States," Reuters adds.
What actions has the Pope taken?
On Dec. 5, Pope Francis ordered the formation of a team of experts to
look into the sexual abuse of minors in the Church, in his first major
step to tackle the crisis, Reuters reports.
Holy See gets it; let's not say too late..." said Archbishop Charles
Scicluna, a former top Vatican official for abuse cases who vehemently
rejects charges of any cover-up. "There are certainly things that need
to be done differently."
"It is not the policy of the Holy See to encourage cover-ups. Only
the truth will help us move on to a situation where we can start being
an example of best practice."
According to Scicluna, the Vatican had opened investigations into 612
new cases of sexual abuse by clerics in 2012, of which 465 were "more
serious" and 418 concerned minors.
Blaine, an American raped as a child in Ohio, told Reuters, "It
sounds like they are pulling numbers out of thin air because they are on
the hot seat. What about the victims?"