Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Vatican on child abuse: other churches are worse than us

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Good to see that the Guardian have picked up on a statement made by the Vatican to the UN human rights council last week on the subject of child abuse. The Holy See was responding to accusations made by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) that it has covered up cases of child abuse involving Catholic priests, with Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society (and representing IHEU) stating that:
"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."
And how did the Vatican respond? By stating that only "somewhere between 1.5% and 5% of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases" and pointing out that:
"While many speak of child abuse, i.e. pedophilia, it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia, being 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 age of 11 and 17 years old."
And having made sure we all have our terminology sorted, the Vatican goes on to use the "other people are at it too" defence, pointing out that sexual abuses have almost been committed by Protestant and Jewish clergy in the United States. The Vatican ends by stating:
"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."
Which somehow makes the Vatican less guilty, presumably?


Anonymous said...

Well as I always said to my children when givn the counter argument "Well, Whatisname does it", "Maybe so, but it still doesn't make it right". To paraphrase Monty Python, many of my friends are Catholic priests and only some of them are paedophiles.

AT said...

That's what paedophiles need to hear: it's totally cool, so long as the kids are into double digits.

Mark Lenahan (Ireland) said...

This constant mis-direction by the Catholic Church infuriates me.

Other people do it.
Only a minority.

Disgusting in their own right, but also NOT answering the question.

What about the cover up?

What about the official church policy of resolving these issues "internally" (i.e. without calling the police). What about the years of moving problem priests around parishes, and the inherent assumption that every accusation is an attack on the church that has to be defended. The culture that canon law supersedes public and democratic law.

More criminal convictions for accessory after the fact are what is needed. More senior clergy in jail, less morality debates with unrepentant criminals.

PersonalFailure said...

As my mother would say: And if [the other religions] jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too?

Neal said...

The new Archbishop has said that it took courage for religious orders and clergy to “face the facts from their past”. It looks like they are running away again here. Why did I not believe him when he said it?

For all the high blown "you don't understand theism" arguments sometimes used against atheism some people need to start with some basic moral philosopy like two wrongs don't make a right.

You will be judged by your actions Holy See, not by the actions of others. The last figure I heard was 12,500 compensation claims in Eire paid out by the Government so far in the 'Ryan' scandal. Your track record is rotten to your core. What is more, in your hearts you must know it.

Gordon Goblin said...

How may priest is 5%? My brief internet query says in 2005 that'd be over 20,000 priests!

Richard Eis said...

I didn't realise "cleaning house" meant nopologising for the mess, hiding the dirty laundry at a friends house then pointing out that her down the street is just as bad.


Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

If the Catholic church is only a small player in the abuse stakes I shudder to think of the enormity of the problem of abusive.

IHEU said...

On 22 September, speaking in the plenary of the UN Human Rights Council, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), representing more that 100 humanist, secular and free-thought organisations in over 40 countries, criticised the Holy See over its role in covering up the scale of child abuse by its priests and religious orders, and for failing to honour its obligations under international law. The statement was based on a longer written statement submitted to the Council in August and published by the UN on 8 September (http://www.iheu.org/un-publishes-iheu-statement-child-abuse-and-holy-see).

The IHEU statement addressed specifically the role of the Holy See - which claims responsibility for the Catholic Church worldwide - in attempting to cover up the extent of child abuse perpetrated by its priests and religious orders. In exercising their right of reply to this criticism the representative of the Holy See ignored the main criticism contained in our statement.

The reply made on behalf of the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Thomasi argued that the Catholic Church was not unique in having clergy who sexually abused children and young people, but it made no mention of the physical and mental abuse meted out for generations to children under the care of its religious orders. No doubt there are abusers in all walks of life, but our point was not the abuse itself but the cover up in which some of the highest officials of the Church were implicated.

The Holy See is a sovereign state and its senior clergy, safely ensconced in the Vatican out of reach of civil law, are answerable to no earthly power other than themselves - and to the few international treaties to which they are party. One such is the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and, as shown in the IHEU report, the Holy See is in massive breach of its obligations under that convention.

Commenting on the Holy See’s response, IHEU Main Representative in Geneva, Roy Brown, said: “By failing to address this issue while seeking to point the finger of blame elsewhere, the Holy See’ has scored a spectacular own goal. One senior UN official described their reply as ‘a disgrace’. We agree.”