The United Nations has begin an inquiry into the global abuse of children perpetrated by the Catholic Church. Former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse Charles Scicluna is representing the Vatican at these hearings where he is facing the first real grilling the faced by the central authority of the church.
His defense is the same one that the Vatican his been claiming since this began—they had no jurisdiction over individual dioceses, parishes , and priests. The responsibility lay with local law enforcement.
Admittedly, Sicluna has moved the church in the direction of preventing or minimizing the potential for future abuses by making ity easier to defrock abusers and calling for (but not yet implementing) greater accountability for bishops and others who are complicit in the abuse. However, he still avoids any suggestions of direct links to the Vatican.
Given the church’s “zero tolerance” policy, she (The committee’s main human rights investigator, Sara de Jesus Oviedo Fierro) asked, why were there “efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases?” Committee members repeatedly asked the Holy See to provide data about the scale of the problem, but the Vatican deferred, saying it would consider the request. They also asked what Pope Francis intends to do with a new commission announced last month to find best practices to protect children from abuse and help victims heal. In addition, the members sought information about accusations that the Vatican’s own ambassador to the Dominican Republic had sexually abused teenage boys.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, told the committee:
“Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican,” . “Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country.”
However, this statement is contradicted by the actions taken against Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, their Ambassador to the DR:
Tomasi dodged the committee’s question about whether Wesolowski would be turned over to secular authorities for prosecution. The Vatican has said it doesn’t extradite its own citizens. Rather, Tomasi said Wesolowski is being tried by the Vatican’s own prosecutors.
Victims groups also challenge this vision of the local church being separate from central authority by presenting a report to the committee.
Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the U.S., and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican’s policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.
Despite the unprecedented public scrutiny, Blaine of SNAP said, “When they say that these crimes should be prosecuted by states, it seems so disingenuous because we know that the church officials at the state level obstruct those efforts to bring justice.”
All of this is twisted with doublespeak in statements from the Vatican itself.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, issued a note about the Holy See’s adherence to the U.N. convention and Vatican efforts to combat sex abuse.
Ahead of the hearing, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, issued a note about the Holy See’s adherence to the U.N. convention and Vatican efforts to combat sex abuse.
“The Holy See is deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse of minors, which harms millions of children throughout the world,” his note said. He added that the Vatican “laments that, sadly, certain members of the clergy have been involved in such abuse.”
The note acknowledged that sex abuse and the suffering of abuse victims has posed a direct challenge to the Church’s credibility regarding the welfare of children.
…Fr. Lombardi said that Catholic teaching emphasizes respect for the dignity of the human person. The Holy See’s adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child is “in keeping with the teaching and constant stance of the Church.”
He said the Holy See is “an active promoter of an immense current of caring service for the good of children throughout the world.”
Pope Francis’ “inspiring guidance and leadership” gives “a new and evident energy to this commitment,” the Vatican spokesman said.
They are proud of their commitment to the safety of children, and that`show they accept responsibility. In fewer words: tehy don`t.