Thursday, February 06, 2014

The coldness of UN bureaucrats and moralists (Opinion)

The Holy See delegation at the UN headquarters in GenevaIt is already a well known and proven fact that the paedophilia scandal which involved Catholic leaders and clergy in palaces, parishes and seminars all over, was handled badly by the Church.

I visited a Washington care home for paedophile former priests who were admitted and treated here as well as having to undergo penance and checks. I remember the horrible air of distress that hung heavy in those rooms. They seemed to have been punished in true Gospel style, with millstones almost literally hanging around the necks for what they did to the children they abused.
 
The report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child refreshed everyone’s minds of the huge scandal, the Catholic hierarchy’s failure to immediately banish those who were found guilty, the hypocritical way in which victims were left to suffer in silence , the shame, the conspiracy of silence and the mad choice of transferring some of the worst culprits of all to other parishes, setting them free to prey on helpless families and terrified little ones. 

An entire generation of Catholics all across the world felt estranged from the faith as a result of this tomblike silence and atonement will be a long time in coming.
 
What raises certain doubts about the content of the report is not its condemnation of the criminal acts of paedophile priests – this everyone agrees on – but the non challant, superficial fashion magazine-like tone – in which it discusses controversial issues such as abortion, contraception, gender identity, throwing these into the same pot as paedophilia. 

As if a priest from some small countryside parish is automatically guilty of paedophilia and a danger to catechism students just because he preaches against abortion and urges caution in the use of contraception.
 
As Sister May Ann Walsh, spokesman of the US Bishops’ Conference wisely comment with regards to the report: “The Committee on the Rights of the Child is correct to voice concern over sexual abuse and is to be commended for its efforts. Unfortunately the report is weakened by including objections to Catholic teaching on such issues as gay marriage, abortion and contraception. When the U.N. committee strays into the culture wars to promote abortion, contraceptives and gay marriage, it undermines its noble cause and trades concern for children to concern for organizations with other agendas. Sexual abuse of a minor is a sin and a crime.” 

Mixing up abortion and contraception with paedophilia creates chaos.


Although the report contains a thousand truths, it is weakened by an excessive moralistic Jacobinism. As if a contest was on to tick all the boxes of the Code of Political Correctness, written in UN officialese to make it extra rigid. Polemicists will say that the UN’s a great one to talk: it is itself incapable of saying anything substantial on big tragedies such as the gassing of Syrian children for fear of Putin using his Security Council veto. 

It publishes numerous communiqués in defence of human, civil, cultural and religious rights of citizens and yet fails to get these signed by governments that violate said rights every single day and in the most horrible of manners. Critics observe that other religions and religious denominations that are vehemently defended by member states, rarely come under the spotlight like this, neither are they scrutinised and condemned in this way. 

The relationship between the Church’s two identities, the Catholic Church as Sovereign State and the Catholic religion also appear blurred. As if an America, Italian or Brazilian priest only answered to the Pope for the sins they have committed and not to the courts in their respective countries as well.
 
Most importantly, the UN has not grasped the new climate in the Church since Francis was elected Pope or the processes set in motion before him in order to put an end to the paedophilia plague and the system that allowed sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church to continue and its perpetrators get away with it unscathed. 

The UN has been ethically slow and this is something that often alienates it from others. It does not look at the differences between each country and culture within the Catholic world or the differences between rich and poor countries. It preaches morals, laying down a review date -2017- which no one has the power to recognise. 

The Church has given its full collaboration - Charles J. Scicluna was appointed lead “prosecutor” for clerical sex abuse in the Church until 2012 - in responding to the UN Committee’s recommendations in the hope that it would serve as an external stimulus for moral reform. 

The UN report’s icy prose ticks all the boxes in bureaucratic terms but is devoid of warmth and respect, proving to be of little use in combating the evils it claims it intends to combat.

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