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Therefore I accuse by Vinnie Nauheimer


Therefore I accuse by  Vinnie Nauheimer

"Saint" Peter Damian's admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

“Saint” Peter Damian’s admonishing against priest pedophiles and those who cover up for them in 1049.

Due to the global ongoing sexual abuse and cover-up by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, it is safe to assume that the only part of Crimen Sollicitationis that was adhered to was the demand for secrecy. Up until 2002 almost every settlement involving sexual abuse by a priest came with an enforceable gag order on the victim. The victims were silenced while most offending priests were moved to new hunting grounds.

The logical question to ask is, “Cui Bono,” who benefits? Who benefits from the silence? It could be argued that the priest and his accuser benefit from the silence. However, since there were no remedies for the care, compensation or treatment of the victim, it is hard to see how victims benefited from Crimen instruction. There has never been any proof whatsoever of rampant false charges being brought against innocent priests. Therefore innocent priests haven’t benefited. So who are the chief beneficiaries of the documentCrimen Sollicitationis? The sexually abusive priest and the Roman Catholic Church are the only beneficiaries.

Therefore, I accuse!

Lest Crimen sidetrack us, the salient points are:
1. The document was sent from the International Headquarters.
2. The document was sent out globally.
3. The document was sent in secrecy.
4. The document demanded secrecy.
5. The penalty for violating secrecy is the harshest penalty the church can mete out: excommunication.
6. It labels the sexual abuse of children as “The Worst Crime” thereby admitting to the world the Vatican’s complete understanding of the vile nature of the act of sexually abusing children.

By their own hand they are condemned.

In the 28 countries we know about, the rape, sodomization, and molestation of children are publicly documented. Why then hasn’t Interpol gotten involved? Interpol states that the protection of children is one of their primary goals. This is the first paragraph taken from Interpol’s page on children:

Crimes against children

Children are the most vulnerable individuals in our society; they are also the most precious commodity that the world has and have a right to be protected from all forms of abuse. INTERPOL as an organization is also committed to eradicating the sexual abuse of children and has passed several resolutions making crimes against children one of International policing top priorities.5

They tell us that, not preventing, but eradicating (wiping out) sexual abuse is one of their top priorities. How can the sexual abuse of children be a top priority when the chief global culprit, the Roman Catholic Church has not been formerly accused by either the UN or Interpol?

0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-01I accuse!

The evidence is abundant for any who would make even a cursory examination of the facts. The Dallas Morning News did an entire series on the international scope of both clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up. Central to the series was the theme of hierarchy moving predator priests internationally in order to save them from being tried for crimes committed or to provide new hunting grounds or both.6

The facts accuse!

The need to protect children around the world is a global priority of United Nations. The U.N. through its UNICEF organization has put together “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Here are articles nineteen and thirty-four from that convention, which address the sexual abuse of children.

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Article 34

States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

  1. The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
  2. The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
  3. The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.7

I accuse the RCC of violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child!

The Holy See, which could be a member of the United Nations by virtue of the fact that the Vatican is a city-state, has elected not to become a member of the UN. Rather it has been granted the nomenclature of permanent observer. This means that they enjoy the full rights of every sovereign member except the right to vote. In this way they can lobby for whatever they desire and not have to go on record as voting for or against an issue.

They chose to not to support “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.” The Holy See declared that “the application of the Convention should be compatible in practice with the particular nature of the Vatican City State and of the sources of its objective law.” in a statement issued when they declined to be a signatory. To date, all members but two have ratified the Convention.8

The United Nations through Interpol, its international police agency, and UNICEF, their children’s agency recognize the need to police and prevent the sexual abuse of children throughout the world. They state this is a top priority. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been widely accepted by governments around the world, seeks to end the sexual abuse of children. Why then have the UN, UNICEF, and Interpol chosen to totally ignore the most public, international series of sex crimes and cover-ups against children running from the twentieth into the twenty-first century?

I accuse!

"Saint" Peter Damian

“Saint” Peter Damian

Having established that the sexual abuse of children is accepted by the RCC as being a criminal act, it follows that aiding and abetting criminals is also a crime. The international criminal activity of aiding and abetting sexual predators by the RCC is well documented. The award winning newspaper The Dallas Morning News did an excellent series of articles dealing with the international flight of pedophile priests to escape prosecution entitled Runaway Priests. The following are excerpts from some of their articles as listed on the website Bishop-accountability.org.

Dr. Navarro-Valls (chief spokesperson for the pope) previously declined to comment on The News’ investigation, which found more than 200 accused priests, brothers and other Catholic workers hiding across international borders and living in unsuspecting communities, often with the church’s support. About 30 of the men were wanted by law enforcement in another country.9

Where is Interpol? Where is the outcry from UNICEF?

Bishop Thomas V. Daily of the Diocese of Brooklyn, in an exchange of correspondence with a Venezuelan bishop in 1991 about allegations against Father Diaz, praised the priest’s work in his diocese even as a 60-count indictment was pending against him in Queens on child sexual abuse charges. Later that year, after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in the case, Father Diaz was deported to Venezuela, where the pattern of victimizing young boys continued unabated.

And so it went throughout Father Diaz’s ministry. Moving from country to country, from parish to parish, from victim to victim, he was often held unaccountable by church officials and was treated delicately by some law enforcement authorities, the interviews and documents show.10

How can the above be anything but an international criminal conspiracy?

His order, the Salesians of Don Bosco, has long moved priests accused of sexual abuse from country to country, away from law enforcement and victims. Indeed, it is how many others in the Catholic Church have dealt with the problem, a yearlong Dallas Morning News investigation has found.11

The crimes committed by the hierarchy of the RCC against the children of the world have been documented many times in many countries. In each country from Poland, to Ireland, to the United States around and down to Australia, the story is the same. Priests who commit criminal acts of sexual abuse against children are shuffled from country to country with no regard for either local or international law. These priests are shuffled by a complicit hierarchy who are guilty of aiding and abetting criminals. Once transferred, these priests are free to prey upon a fresh population of unsuspecting families who revere the priest as god’s representative on earth.

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

In 2002 Pope John Paul II stated before the world, “There is no room in the priesthood for those who sexually abuse children.”12 But nothing was done; priests were still being shuffled and names of priestly perpetrators are still a closely guarded secret. In April of 2008, while on the plane over to the United States, Benedict XVI said, “I am deeply ashamed” 13 while referring to the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal. On July 19, 2008, in Australia, he said,

“I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”14

“And those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice!” Strong words from the pope! The pope is an honorable man; bishops and cardinals are all honorable men and they speak well. Yet nothing was said about revoking Crimen Sollicitationis. Did he forget that as Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001, he reaffirmed its validity? He can say one thing publicly, but as long as he still binds everyone with knowledge of clergy abuse to the absolute law of secrecy under the chapter 11, “ a secret of the Holy Office,15” the pope is only mouthing words. As long as Cardinals, Law, Mahony, George, Egan and Levada remain in office, he is only mouthing words. As long as bishops and the leaders of religious orders who shuffled pedophiles from country to country remain in the priesthood, the pope is only mouthing words. The pope is the only one who can start bringing those responsible for these evils to justice!

It is time to put an end to the global scourge of clerical child abuse and put these criminal priests behind bars along with the members of the hierarchy who have purposefully aided them. (It seems that Pope Benedict agrees with me.) These crimes are a violation of God’s law, Church law, Civil law, and International law (all covered in this treatise). As proven in the United States, the only thing that will change the way the RCC harbors their criminals is a courtroom. Interpol must aid in the capture of these international child abusing fugitives and the U.N. must bring charges against the Vatican in the World Court. Only the credible threat of listing the Vatican as a criminal organization, making them stand trial for the abuse of tens of thousands of children and covering-up for thousands of priests will force the much needed changes while making the world a safer place for children. Interpol and the UN had every right to get involved in the clergy abuse scandal because it violates their conventions. Now both the UN and Interpol have an invitation to get involved straight from the pope’s mouth. Pope Benedict XVI has just asked for “aid and assistance” followed up by “those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.” The Vicar of Christ on earth is asking for help in bringing to justice to those who committed and helped in crimes of sexual abuse against children. What greater invitation can be made?

Note 1. To any lawyers who may represent or have represented survivors of sexual abuse. Crimen Sollicitationis means “crime of solicitation” which refers to crimes of the confessional. Reading this text is extremely difficult because everything up until Title V is about soliciting in the confessional. Title V paragraph 72 states: “Those things that have been stated concerning the crime of solicitation up to this point are also valid, changing only those things necessary to be changed by their very nature, for the worst crime,” TakeCrimen Sollicitationis (English version) and put it in a Word document. Then do a find/replace with find Solicitation and replace it with child abuse. You will be amazed at how it clarifies the document giving you a clearer understanding of what Crimen Sollicitationis says about the clergy abuse of children.

About the author: Vinnie Nauheimer has written extensively on the subject of clerical abuse. He has written two books on the subject of clergy abuse. One of poetry “Silent Screams” and one comprised of selected letters sent over an eight year period on the subject of clergy abuse called “Epistles on Clergy Abuse.” His art, poetry and writing can be found on websites around the world. Though they don’t issue a degree in Clergy Abuse, Mr. Nauheimer successfully survived advanced classes from the School of Intimidation and Slander sponsored by the NY Archdiocese. Both his and his family’s degree of pain were acknowledged by a Grand Jury probing the issue of clergy abuse. His goals are the same as those stated by Pope Benedict XVI in Australia on July 19, 2008: “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases_by_country#See_also July 9, 2008 and http://www.scribd.com/doc/1021887/SEXUAL-ABUSE-IN-THE-CATHOLIC-CHURCH-2002   – July 9, 2008
2. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008
3. The 1922 Instruction and the 1962 Instruction “Crimen Sollicitationis,” Promulgated by the Vatican: Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.   – June 30, 2008
4. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008
5. http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/Default.asp   – July 11, 2008
6. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/longterm/stories/Runaway_
priests_hiding_in_plain_sight.5ee1e9be.html,   – July 11, 2008
7. http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/Conventions/unConvCR.asp   – July 12, 2008
8. http://www.unicef.org/pon95/chil0008.html   – July 12, 2008
9. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2004_09_12_Dunklin_InThe.htm   – July 12, 2008
10. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/timeline/2002-04-20-Murphy-Diaz.htm   – July 13, 2008
11. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2004_06_20_Dunklin_ConvictedSexual.htm July 13, 2008
12. http://www.poynterextra.org/extra/abusetracker/2002_04_21_archive.htm   – July 18, 2008
13. http://aftermathnews.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/pope-says-he-is-deeply-ashamed-of-clergy-abuse-scandal/  – July 18, 2008

14. http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=2&ContentID=85771   – July 19, 2008
15. http://www.priestsofdarkness.com/crimen.pdf   – July 10, 2008.

U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse


U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse

How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges


How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

From the Link: How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges

The Vatican

The Vatican

The Vatican doesn’t acknowledge human rights unless they are in accordance with Church doctrine. Its courts have been found by the EU to violate the right to a fair trial. And the Vatican has even maintained that its signature to one of the few human rights treaties it has signed (and even then with “reservations”) only applies to its own territory and not to the Catholic Church.

“One cannot then appeal to these rights of man in order to oppose the interventions of the Magisterium.”
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1990 [1]

The Vatican not only quietly rejects the supremacy of human rights in principle, it also cultivates effective ways to get around having to implement them.

♦ Diplomatic recognition, sought worldwide, brings diplomatic immunity from charges of human rights abuse

The doctrine of sovereign immunity has its roots in the law of feudal England and is based on the idea that the ruler can do no wrong. In US law this is broadly applied to the heads of foreign states. [2] It was sovereign immunity that foiled an American attempt to sue Benedict XVI for the Vatican’s handling of child abuse by priests. The Church lawyers argued that the pope, as the Vatican’s head of state, enjoys immunity against lawsuits in US courts. [3]

In U.S. courts foreign countries are also generally immune from civil actions, with exemptions primarily for commercial acts. This means that unless a case can be brought in under an exemption the only recourse may be to try to sue the Vatican in a country which does not have diplomatic relations with it. However, as the map shows, most of the world’s countries (coloured blue) already recognise the statehood of the Holy See, as the Vatican is called officially.

There are very few (gray) countries left which don’t yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. These amount to just three island nations (the Comoros, north of Madagascar, theMaldives, southwest of India, and Tuvalu, north of New Zealand) — two African nations (Mauritania and Somalia) — three from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Afghanistan) — and eight from Asia (Bhutan, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia). [4]

X40036_727_CWVaticanRelnsCaption

The logistics of suing the Vatican from some of these countries could be daunting. Furthermore, due to the Vatican’s persistent diplomatic efforts, the number of countries which don’t recognise the Vatican is declining every year. (And one of the few left, Tuvalu, is gradually disappearing beneath the rising seas).

The Vatican’s web of diplomatic relations also makes its representatives immune to prosecution under international law. The 1961 Vienna Convention tries to provide diplomats with the security needed to perform their jobs. It is thanks to this treaty that states now express their displeasure by expelling the diplomats of a foreign country, rather than imprisoning them.

Diplomatic immunity in action: Archbishop Wesolowski is whisked away to the Vatican

However, this treaty was never meant to allow accused rapists of children to go free. Yet this appeared to be the intention when Bishop Paul Gallagher, the papal nuncio or pope’s ambassador to Australia refused to hand over to prosecutors documents on two priests who had abused more than 100 children over 40 years. [5] The nuncio invoked diplomatic immunity. However, as a UN committee later reminded the Vatican, [6] as a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it was obliged to hand over this evidence. [7] Pope Francis was apparently so pleased by the nuncio’s attempts to block justice in Australia’s worst clerical abuse scandal, that the next year he promoted him to archbishop and to the number three post in his kingdom  the Vatican’s Foreign Minister. [8]

as happened in the Dominican Republic. [9] There on June 24, 2013 a deacon was arrested and admitted to procuring impoverished boys to be sexually abused by the papal nuncio Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski. [10] By the time the deacon appeared on TV and said that others in the Church knew about this [11] the nuncio had vanished. He had been secretly whisked away and reappeared in the Vatican.

At the TV station they suspected that there had been a leak.

A “dossier” accusing papal nuncio Archbishop Josef Wesolowski of sex abuse of minors was sent to Pope Francis sometime in July [2013] by Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. The pope found the information credible enough to dismiss Wesolowski, nuncio to both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21 via confidential letter N.2706/PR to the bishops of both countries.

Neither the civil authorities nor the public knew about Wesolowski until a local TV program did an exposé on Aug. 31. The result of a year-long investigation, the broadcast contained testimony from residents of the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo that Wesolowski paid minors for sex.

Three days after the TV broadcast, a local bishop confirmed that Wesolowski had been recalled for sexually abusing minors.

Wesolowski reportedly had left the country only a few days before. [12]

In this case the Vatican acted against its own much-touted guidelines:

the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome […] before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. [13]

Once he was safely in Rome the Vatican “confirmed that Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican city state, that the Vatican doesn’t extradite its citizens and that as a nuncio, or Holy See ambassador, Wesolowski enjoys full diplomatic immunity”. [14] Experts in international law say that the Vatican could have lifted the nuncio’s diplomatic immunity to let him face trial in the Dominical Republic (which could hardly be accused of having an anti-Catholic judiciary). [15]

However, the Church came under increasing pressure when the United Nations Committee against Torture stepped in. In June 2014 it urged the Vatican, if the investigation warranted it, to either try Wesolowski itself under the Vatican State criminal code (not canon law) or let someone else do so — and report back on the outcome. [16]

In August 2014, the Vatican gave Wesolwski a secret canon law trial to determine if he had violated Church doctrine. The Vatican tribunal found Wesolwski’s guilty of abusing young boys and defrocked him. But it refused to provide any information about his whereabouts or how he pleaded to the charges and refused to release contact information for his lawyer. [17] This deprived Mr. Wesolowski of his diplomatic immunity — so the Vatican then fell back on his Vatican State citizenship as the reason for not handing him over.

To avoid further challenges to its jurisdiction, the Vatican refused to provide the necessary documents to Polish prosecutors, who had hoped to try Wesolowski, a dual Vatican-Polish citizen. [18] The Vatican also got the Dominican Republic to fall into line. In August 2014, the day after Wesolowski lost his diplomatic immunity, the Santo Dominican prosecutor’s office announced that it was launching an investigation. [19] However, by the end of the year, the Dominican Republic’s top prosecutor was expressing “appreciation and satisfaction” with the Vatican’s actions (!) and said that the Vatican was the right place for the trial. [20] The Dominican authorities even stonewalled the legal inquiries of Polish prosecutors about Wesolowski, [21] which forced Poland to suspend its inquiry. [22] This cleared the way for the Vatican to conduct its own trial under the criminal law of its own state, which would satisfy the UN commitee, but keep control over the proceedings.

A Polish expert on church law, Prof. Pawel Borecki, explained why the Vatican was determined to maintain control:

“The Vatican will seek that this case does not go beyond its borders. Wesolowski is a high-ranking diplomat. He has knowledge of how the Roman curia works. He may also know about pedophilia in the church and if other high-ranking priests are involved in the crime. In a trial abroad he could reveal everything. Therefore, we can expect that the Vatican will not release him and it will hand down a severe punishment.” [23]

♦ Keeping out of key human rights treaty shields Vatican courts from international standards

The Vatican can’t be censured for violating the right to a fair trial which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights because it hasn’t signed the treaty. Instead, in a 2001 court case, it was Italy that was faulted for enforcing the unfair judgement of the Vatican court.

In essence the European Court of Human Rights found in 2001 that the procedures of the Roman Rota, the ecclesiastical appeals court responsible for marriage-annulment applications, failed to reach the standards required for a fair trial under article 6(1) of the European Convention and that, therefore, its judgments could not properly be recognized and enforced under Italian law. ECHR noted that in Rota proceedings witness statements were not provided to parties, thus depriving the parties of an opportunity to comment on them. The parties were not advised that they could appoint lawyers to appear for them, nor advised of the terms of the legal submissions made by the canon lawyer appointed by the court to argue against annulment. Finally, the parties were refused sight of a full copy of the Rota’s judgment, in which the ecclesiastical court set out its reasoning. Given these circumstances, the Strasbourg court took the view that justice was not done in annulment proceedings before church courts. [24]

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O'Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

“As new scandals erupt in Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Nigeria, the Pope has failed to put in place and enforce mandatory child protection policy across his church. I asked a senior church figure why this was the case. I was told that to put in place global policy underpinned by church law would admit that the Vatican had the responsibility and the power to do so, and expose it to lawsuits and potentially massive financial losses.” ― Colm O’Gorman, Independent, 9 March 2010

♦ Damage limitation, part 1: Blame the bishops

If the Vatican doesn’t sign a human rights treaty, it’s easier to confine blame (and costs) to the local bishop. This helps the Vatican deny all responsibility for what is done in the Church worldwide. Thus the Vatican’s top prosecutor admits no fault on the part of the Church watchdog body, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith which, under Cardinal Ratzinger (now the present pope), dealt with abuse cases. [25]

♦ Damage limitation, part 2: Blame the priests

Even better, from the Vatican’s point of view, is to place sole blame on the errant priests.

In the US Vatican lawyers argued that Roman Catholic clerics are not officials or employees of the Holy See. [26] This is now the main Vatican defence against lawsuits in the United States seeking to hold the Holy See liable for the failure of its bishops to stop priests from raping and molesting children.

Usually foreign countries are immune from civil actions in U.S. courts, but there are exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act which courts have said were applicable in this case. The statute says that plaintiffs can establish subject matter jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign, if a crime was committed in the United States by any official or employee of the foreign state and that the crimes were committed within the scope of employment. [27]

In the UK the same argument is being repeated. The English Catholic Church said priests are self-employed and thus it’s not responsible for victim compensation. Mindful of the dioceses in the US which were obliged to pay compensation to victims of clerical abuse and in some cases have gone bankrupt, [28] it has tried to argue that priests are self-employed. [29] However, in a High Court ruling on 8 November 2011 the judge rejected that argument, stating that the relationship between a priest and his bishop is sufficiently close so as to impose responsibility. According to the alleged victim’s lawyer, “This is a key decision with potentially far-reaching implications, effectively extending the principle of vicarious liability”. [30]

There are other theological variations on the responsibility theme: Whereas the Catholic Church says that its priests are self-employed, the Church of England, in order to avoid giving its priests workers’ rights, claimed they were employed by God. [31] And since 2008 it has said that they are “office holders”, in other words, employed by no one.

In Australia, too, the Vatican tries to hold the priests, and not the Church, legally liable in cases of abuse. It does through the remarkable claim, supported in a 2007 decision by the Supreme Court of New South Wales, that the “Catholic Church” does not exist as a single legal entity. [32] Therefore it cannot be sued; it cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of individuals who work in its “unincorporated associations”. Victims of assault could sue the responsible individuals or their unincorporated associations but it would be pointless; the individual religious take vows of poverty and the unincorporated associations own nothing. [33]

However, in 2014 Cardinal George Pell suggested that the Australian Church was no more responsible for priests’ crimes than any other organisation was for its employees. [34] Yes, employees.

♦ Damage limitation, part 3: Blame religious orders then let them refuse to pay

The English High Court and Court of Appeal both ruled that a Catholic diocese was liable to compensate the boys in a Catholic home who had been beaten, kicked and raped. However, that didn’t stop the diocese from claiming that a religious order was responsible and refusing to pay. And, of course, the order also denied any responsibility. [35] By 2012 the legal proceedings had been dragging on for eight years and due to the strain, many of the broken victims had dropped out of the process. [36]

And in Ireland where the Catholic Church and 19 religious orders agreed to split the compensation 50-50, the orders, one after another, have refused to pay. As of 2012 this had been going on for ten years. [37]

Even the four orders of Catholic nuns who ran the Magdalene Laundries and profited from what amounted to slave labour have refused to pay. [38] The Good Shepherd Sisters, The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, The Sisters of Mercy and The Sisters of Charity are keeping all the profits from selling prime real estate when their gulags were shut down are refusing to share this with their victims. [39]

In Canada it’s the same story. Eight Catholic orders ran the orphanages and psychiatric hospitals in the Province of Quebec. Federal subsidies were greater for psychiatric hospitals than for orphanages, so to maximise the profits, large numbers of normal children were “diagnosed” as feeble-minded or insane. In both kinds of Church-run institutions the children were subjected to unimaginable brutality and many died. Yet neither the orders involved nor the Vatican are willing to pay any compensation to the traumatised survivors. [40]

Since the pope is the head of every Catholic religious order, they must be doing this with his consent. As David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, writes,

The Catholic church isn’t some loosely-knit hippie commune. It’s a rigid, secretive, tightly-knit institution. So when crimes happen, it’s disingenuous for church officials to pretend that everyone involved is disconnected from one another. [41]

♦ Damage limitation, part 4: Blame the victim

In a sworn deposition in 2011 the bishop of Syracuse actually said that the victims of child-molesting priests are partly to blame for their own abuse. [42]

♦ Damage limitation, part 5: Lobby against extending the time limits for suing the Church

Many victims are unable to talk about abuse or face their accusers until they reach their 30s, 40s or later, putting the crime beyond the reach of the law. Yet in some US states, like New York, the victim is required to come forth by age 23. The US Supreme Court ruled that changes in criminal limits (statues of limitation) cannot be retroactive, so that any extension of present ones they will affect only recent and future crimes. [43] However, even this the Catholic Church is lobbying to prevent. If it succeeds, then the time limits can prevent penalties being applied for human rights abuses. Even when the Church admits it knew about the abuse, the priest admits that he did it, and there is independent evidence to back this up, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice”. [44]

♦ Damage limitation, part 6: other “evasions and machinations” 

These include (but are not confined to):

— Spending millions of dollars to fight sexual abuse lawsuits and keeping sealed the names of thousands of accused priests, as well as the outcomes of some disciplinary cases sent to the Vatican. [45]

— Hiding funds to avoid compensating victims. In 2007 a judge in informed the Diocese of San Diego that its attempt to shift the diocese’s assets while the case was pending violated bankruptcy laws. [46] And that same year the Vatican allowed the Milwaukee archdiocese to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as Archbishop Dolan wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.” [47]

— Legal quibbles of all kinds. For instance, in 2011 church leaders in St. Louis claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere. [48]

— Going after honest clerics who act as whistleblowers. A group of priests and nuns formed in 2013 says the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators. Calling themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers, they say that priests who spoke up have been “removed from their parishes, hustled into retirement or declared ‘unstable’ and sent to treatment centres for clergy with substance-abuse problems or sexual addictions.” [49]

— Subjecting the victims to an oath of secrecy. This is the oath that the victims of the Irish paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth were obliged to swear before Cardinal Sean Brady in 1975 when he was a priest and professor of canon law: [50]

“I will never directly or indirectly, by means of a nod, or of a word, by writing, or in any other way, and under whatever type of pretext, even for the most urgent and most serious cause (even) for the purpose of a greater good, commit anything against this fidelity to the secret, unless a…dispensation has been expressly given to me by the Supreme Pontiff.” [51]

— Tipping off accused clerics to allow destruction of evidence. In Australia in 2002, when a bishop learned that a child victim of one of his priests had gone to the police, he drove to a neighbouring town to warn him. This gave the priest, who was later comnvicted for repeatedly raping four children, the chance to destroy incriminating evidence. [52]

— Witness intimidation. In Germany in 2009 the Catholic Church hired detectives who turned at the homes of abused children and tried to get them retract their claims against one of its priests. [53]

— Hush money. In Australia in 2015 the nephew of a priest said that Cardinal Pell had tried to bribe him to keep quiet about abuse by his uncle. [54] And this tactic was proven to have been used in Germany in 1999, when cash payments were made to the parents of abused children at the same time as they signed agreement to remain silent. See Money for silence.

 It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)...stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

It has been plausibly claimed that “the failure of the Vatican to promulgate a mandatory worldwide code of conduct, with a reporting requirement (for child abuse)…stems precisely from a fear of acknowledging its authority over national churches and implicitly conceding that priests and bishops, whom it appoints, are actually its agents in a legal sense.” — Patrick Smyth

♦ The Church follows its own Canon Law (which can be changed by a stroke of the papal pen) and must be forced to comply with civil law which is based on human rights

Amnesty International criticised the Vatican in its 2011 report, claiming it “did not sufficiently comply with its international obligations relating to the protection of children”. AI pointed out that the Vatican enlarged its own definition of “crimes in canon law” beyond “the sexual abuse of minors” ― but not the punishments

Amendments to the canon law promulgated in May introduced the “delicts” of paedophile pornography and abuse of mentally disabled people; the maximum punishment for these “delicts” is dismissal or deposition. Canon law does not include an obligation for Church authorities to report cases to civil authorities for criminal investigation. Secrecy is mandatory throughout the proceedings. [55]

As if the record unpunished priest abusers were not proof enough, a letter written in 2001 by a senior Vatican official has come to light praising a French bishop when he was convicted of failing to report a paedophile priest to the police. In 2010 the Bishop was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for not denouncing the priest, who was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2000 for sexually abusing 11 boys. [56]

However, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, told the Bishop, “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities.” And he concludes the letter to the French bishop by holding up the Bishops’ behaviour as a model for others; “This Congregation, in order to encourage brothers in the episcopate in this delicate matter, will forward a copy of this letter to all the conferences of bishops.” [57]

The Cardinal said afterwards that his letter was about protecting the seal of the confessional in accordance with Church law (Canon 983), but there is no mention of this in the text itself and at his trial the Bishop disputed this. [58] However, even if this were true, this would not hold in France which has apparently legislated a “duty to report” where children are involved. “French law recognises the seal of the confessional as part of a protected category of ‘professional secrets’, but makes an exception for crimes committed against minors”. [59]

 “Clericalism has many faces.  It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.” ― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

“Clericalism has many faces. It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon Law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.”
― Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

Later the Cardinal also dropped a bombshell. He claimed that, “After consulting the pope, I wrote a letter to the bishop, congratulating him as a model of a father who does not turn in his children.” [60]

If Castrillon Hoyos is telling the truth, then John Paul personally approved sending this letter in direct violation of the instruction Card[inal] Ratzinger’s CDF had sent down months earlier, urging bishops in countries where the law obliges them to report knowledge of sexual crimes against children to civil authorities, to follow the law. If Castrillon Hoyos is being truthful, it would suggest that, as far as the pontiff was concerned, the Ratzinger directive was window dressing. [61]

The Church record of stonewalling criminal investigations certainly suggests that, until and unless forced to do otherwise, Canon Law, the legal system of the Catholic Church, is all the Church feels bound to follow. The outspoken Monsignor Maurice Dooley, an expert on Canon Law, has even stated this publicly. In 2002 he declared that bishops did not have to tell the Irish police about paedophile clerics and might even shelter these priests. “As far as the Church is concerned, its laws come first.” [62] And in April 2010 the Brazilian Archbishop Dadeus Grings concurred, saying that priestly abuse was a matter of internal church discipline, not something to report to the police. “For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange.” [63]

And even senior churchmen claiming that it is Church policy to report suspected abuse to the police have been found to be lying. In Australia, for instance, despite assurances by a bishop that the church had enforced strict rules to ensure such cases were reported to the police as a “matter of absolute policy’”, he and an archbishop secretly defrocked an abuser who was assured that “your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of this process”. [64]

In 2014 a United Nations committee severely criticised the Vatican’s handling of abuse cases and its failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The panel rejected the church’s key contention that the Vatican has no jurisdiction over its bishops and priests around the world, and is responsible for putting in effect the Convention on the Rights of the Child only within the tiny territory of Vatican City. By ratifying the convention, the panel said, the Vatican took responsibility for making sure it was respected by individuals and institutions under the Holy See’s authority around the world. [65]

To this the Vatican replied by using its usual shell game, switching between its three identities, as dictated by expediency:  “The Committee has overlooked important distinctions between the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church.” [66]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Further reading about the Pope and the law

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, “Put the pope in the dock. Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law”, Guardian, 2 April 2010. [This is a proposal to prosecute the Vatican under criminal law, where diplomatic immunity does not apply, but where an arrest could only be made in a country (like the UK, but not the US) which has signed the Statute of the International Criminal Court.]

“Call to treat Vatican as a rogue state: Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson says the church must abandon canon law”,Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2010. http://www.smh.com.au/world/call-to-treat-vatican-as-a-rogue-state-20100908-151cg.html

Afua Hirsch, “Canon law has allowed abuse priests to escape punishment, says lawyer”, Guardian, 7 September 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/canon-law-abuse-priests-escape-punishment

Alan Duke, “Lawsuit demands Vatican name priests accused of sex abuse”, CNN, 22 April 2010.  “Pope Benedict XVI was named as a defendant because he has the ultimate authority to remove priests and because of his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the suit says.” [This is a suit under civil law and, as the US has recognised the Holy See by establishing diplomatic relations with it, this suit depends upon proving that the Holy See acted in a manner which removes its immunity, as outlined above.]

Notes

  1. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Instruction: Donum veritatis, On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian”, 1990-03-24, #36.
  2. “”Immunity”, The Free Dictionary.
  3. John L. Allen Jr, “The autonomy of bishops, and suing the Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 21 May 2010.
  4. Sandro Magister, “The Holy See’s Diplomatic Net. Latest Acquisition: Russia”, Chiesa, 14 January 2010.
    The Holy See does not yet have relations with sixteen countries, most of them in Asia, many of them with majority Muslim populations. There is no Vatican representative in nine of these countries: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bhutan, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, the Maldives, Oman, Tuvalu, and Vietnam. While in seven other countries there are apostolic delegates, pontifical representatives to the local Catholic communities but not to the government. Three of these countries are African: the Comoros, Mauritania, and Somalia. And four of them are Asian: Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar.
  5. “Australian abuse inquiry faces diplomatic standoff with Vatican”, National Catholic Reporter, 19 December 2013.
  6. [UN] Committee against Torture, Concluding observations on the initial report of the Holy See, 17 June 201, #14.
  7. See article 6.1, “Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.” Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263 of 25 May 2000, entered into force on 18 January 2002,
  8. “British archbishop who claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to paedophile investigators is promoted to third highest role in Vatican by the Pope”, Daily Mail, 10 November 2014.
  9. “Dominican Republic says Vatican to handle landmark sex abuse case”, Agence France-Presse, 1 December 2014.
  10. Laurie Goodstein, “Vatican Defrocks Ambassador in Abuse Inquiry”, New York Times, 27 June 2014.
  11. . “Priests accused of child sex abuse to stand trial in Poland?”, Radio Poland, 16 October 2013.
  12. Betty Clermont, “Pope Francis Concealed His Actions Against Two Prelates. Now Both ‘Whereabouts are Unknown’”, Daily Kos, 29 September 2013.
  13. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014.
  14. “Vatican to Polish prosecutor: we don’t extradite”, Associated Press, 11 January 2014.
  15. Laurie Goodstein, “For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad”, New York Times, 23 August 2014
  16. The United Nations Committee against Torture said on 17 June 2014, ref CAT/C/VAT/CO/1:
    Impunity

    13. The Committee appreciates the confirmation provided regarding the ongoing investigation under the Vatican City State Criminal Code of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic. The Committee notes that the Republic of Poland has reportedly requested the extradition of Archbishop Wesolowski. The Committee also is concerned that the State party did not identify any case to date in which it has prosecuted an individual responsible for the commission of or complicity or participation in a violation of the Convention (arts. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

    The State party should ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of Archbishop Wesolowski and any other persons accused of perpetrating or being complicit in violations of the Convention who are nationals of the State party or are present on the territory of the State party. If warranted, the State party should ensure such persons are criminally prosecuted or extradited for prosecution by the civil authorities of another State party. The Committee requests the State party to provide it with information on the outcome of the investigation concerning Archbishop Wesolowski.

  17. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  18. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  19. “Dominican court opens case on ex-Vatican official”, Associated Press, 31 August 2014.
  20. “Dominican prosecutor OKs Vatican sex abuse case”, Associated Press, 2 December 2014.
  21. “Poland suspends paedophilia investigation against archbishop”, Polski Radio, 19 December 2014.
  22. “Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy”, New York Times, 22 December 2014.
  23. Donald Snyder, “Venue debated for trial of former nuncio accused of abusing minors”, National Catholic Reporter, 6 September 2014.
  24. Pellegrini v. Italy, 2001-VIII, Application No: 30882/96
  25. Laurie Goodstein, “U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  26. Stoyan Zaimov, “Catholic Church Not Employer of Pedophile Priests, US Judge Rules”, Christian Post, 22 August 2014.
  27. “Bishops who mishandle abuse must be accountable, says Vatican official”, Catholic Herald, 8 February 2012.
  28. “Pope-bishop relationship key in sex abuse defense”, AP, 18 May 2010.
  29. “Settlements and bankruptcies in [American] Catholic sex abuse cases”, Wikipedia.
  30. “Catholic bishop criticises ruling on church liability for actions of priests”, Guardian, 15 November 2011.
    Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, “The Diocese, Fr Wilf Baldwin and the High Court Judgment”, 10 November 2011.
  31. “Catholic Church responsible for child abuse, High Court rules”, The Lawyer, 9 November 2011.
  32. Jonathan Petre, “Clergy close to workers’ rights”, Telegraph, 19 January 2004.
  33. Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church V Ellis & Anor [2007] NSWCA 117 (24 May 2007).
  34. Australian Cardinal angers abuse victims, The Tablet, 22 August 2014.
  35. Glen Coulton, letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2011.
  36. “Church abuse case goes to highest court”, The Times, 23 July 2012.
  37. “Roman Catholic church stalls on £8m child abuse claims“, Observer, 15 November 2009
  38. “Counting the cost of abuse redress”, Irish Examiner, 01 October 2012
  39. “Kenny: I can’t force orders to contribute to Magdalenes redress fund”, Breaking News IE, 17 July 2013.
  40. Conor Ryan, “Site by laundry grave sold for €61.8m”, Irish Examiner, 05 July 2011.
  41. Petition concerning the Duplessis Orphans, presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on behalf of the Duplessis Orphans, by Dr. Jonathan Levy and Rod Vienneau, 15 April 2011. http://www.vaticanbankclaims.com/quebec.pdf This is a reliable summary, as any factual inaccuracies would expose this human rights lawyer to charges of perjury, as explained at the end of the document.
  42. “Child victims partly to blame in priest sex-abuse cases, Syracuse bishop testified”, Syracuse.com, 13 September 2015.
  43. “Judge: Try Philadelphia priests, official together”, AP, 29 July 2011.
  44. Marci A. Hamilton, “Why ensuring accountability for clergy sexual abuse of children has proved so difficult, even though it remains so crucial”, Findlaw, 6 May 2004.
  45. Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University who represents plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits, quoted in “Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits”, New York Times, 14 June 2012.
  46. “Ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit, Survivors of Sexual Abuse Take Stock”, New York Times, 15 September 2015.
  47. Amnesty International, Annual Report, 2011: “Vatican”.
  48. “Dolan Sought to Protect Church Assets, Files Show”, New York Times, 1 July 2013.
    “Appeals court: Judge erred on Milwaukee archdiocese fund”, AP, 10 March 2015.
  49. “Judge Orders External Audit of San Diego Diocese Accounts”, Associated Press, carried in San Luis Obispo Tribune, 11 April 2007.
  50. “Abuse victims criticise Brady’s decision to stay”, BBC News, 18 May 2010.
  51. “Revealed: the oath Brady, Smyth and the children swore”, Irish Independent, 3 December 2012.
  52. “Courage puts shame ‘squarely where it belongs'”, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 2013.
  53. “Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse”, New York Times, 20 May 2013.
  54. “Cardinal Pell denies attempting to bribe alleged abuse victim and helping to move paedophile priest”, Tablet, 21 May 2015.
  55. “Mo. appeals court rules Catholic church not responsible for some abuse”, St. Louis Public Radio, 5 July 2011.
  56. “How the German Catholic Church Protected a Pedophile Priest”, Spiegel, 24 April 2009.
  57. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  58. Cardinal Darío del Niño Jesús Castrillón Hoyos to Bishop Pierre Pican, 8 September 2001. Translation in “Darío Castrillón Hoyos”,
  59. John L Allen Jr, “Crisis hangs over pope in Malta like volcanic ash”, National Catholic Register, 17 April 2010.
  60. Tom Heneghan, “John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse – cardinal”, Reuters, 18 April 2010.
  61. Rod Dreher, “Cardinal: John Paul approved of cover-up”, Beliefnet, 18 April 2010.
  62. Ciaran Byrne, “Controversial cleric a ‘grade A1 idiot’, says colleague”, Irish Independent, 20 March 2010.
  63. “Catholic archbishop says kids are spontaneously gay”, Examiner.com, 8 May 2010.
  64. “Calls multiply for inquiry into handling of sex abuse”, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2012.
  65. Laurie Goodstein, Nick Cumming-Brice and Jim Yardley,“ U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse”, New York Times, 5 February 2014.
  66. “Holy See’s Comments to Observations From UN Committee on Rights of the Child”, Zenit, 26 September 2014.

 

Vatican envoy rejects UN panel’s critical verdict on clerical abuse scandal


Vatican envoy rejects UN panel’s critical verdict on clerical abuse scandal

Committee attacks church’s handling of sex abuse allegations, but archbishop says findings are outdated and ideological

The leadership of the Roman Catholic church is engaged in a tense standoff with the United Nations after a damning report on the Holy See’s handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal was branded out of date, unfair and ideological by a top Vatican official.

After the appearance last month of a Holy See delegation before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the expert panel published a series of highly critical observations accusing the church of failing to acknowledge the scale of the problem and implementing policies that led to “the continuation of the abuse and the impunity of the perpetrators”.

The committee said it was particularly concerned that, when dealing with allegations of children being abused by priests, “the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests”.

The panel also found fault with some central church teachings and their impact on children’s health, urging the Vatican to reconsider its stance on abortion and contraception, and encouraging it to tone down criticism of homosexuality in an attempt to reduce “social stigmatisation” and violence against gay youths and children raised by gay couples.

In a swift and terse response, the Vatican released a statement saying it would submit the findings “to a thorough study and examination” but did not appreciate being asked to change its position on issues it considered immutable.

“The Holy See does … regret to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic church teaching on the dignity of [the] human person and in the exercise of religious freedom,” it said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN in Geneva, went further, saying he had been surprised by the findings, which he considered “not up to date” and a distorted depiction that ignored recent progress.

Tomasi, who was part of last month’s delegation, said the report seemed “almost to have been prepared before” that meeting, and ignored the “precise responses on various points” that he and other officials had given. Asked by Vatican Radio why he thought the findings had been so harsh, he said he suspected pro-gay rights NGOs had influenced the committee and “reinforced an ideological line” in the UN.

Advocates for the survivors of clerical sex abuse welcomed the committee’s findings. “This day has been a long time coming, but the international community is finally holding the Vatican accountable for its role in enabling and perpetuating sexual violence in the church,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights.

“The whole world will be watching to ensure that the Vatican takes the concrete steps required by the UN to protect children and end these crimes.”

Pope Francis has referred to clerical child sex abuse as “the shame of the church”, yet has not often spoken out about it, preferring to focus on other issues such as poverty and the evils of the global financial system. In December he announced the establishment of a commission of experts to look at how the church could better protect children from potential abusers.

When they appeared in Geneva last month, Tomasi and Charles Scicluna, a former sex crimes prosecutor at the Vatican and auxiliary bishop of Malta, said guidelines already put in place by the Holy See and Catholic churches around the world had, when properly applied, presented a way of eliminating the scourge of abuse. “The Holy See gets it,” Scicluna declared.

But, according to the UN committee, that is yet to be proved. “The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” it wrote in its first concluding observations on the Holy See – a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child – since 1995.

Dismissing a key plank of the Holy See’s argument – that the church is not comparable to a global business and the Vatican cannot be expected to keep in check all clergy in all parts of the world – the committee said that by ratifying the convention it had committed itself to implementing it “not only on the territory of the Vatican City state but also as the supreme power of the Catholic church through individuals and institutions placed under its authority”.

Attacking what it described as a “code of silence” that had restricted the reporting of suspected crimes, the committee criticised the practice of moving priests found to have abused children from parish to parish or to other countries “in an attempt to cover up such crimes”.

The committee noted: “The practice of offenders’ mobility, which has allowed many priests to remain in contact with children and to continue to abuse them, still places children in many countries at high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children.”

Last month Scicluna told the panel that this was “a grave concern”, but said dioceses and parishes were now obliged to pass on information concerning a priest wanting to move on. He also said: “It is not a policy of the Holy See to encourage cover-ups.”

The UN panel also criticised the Holy See for refusing to hand over data concerning all cases of abuse brought to its attention during the period in question, and their outcomes. It said confidential disciplinary proceedings had “allowed the vast majority of abusers and almost all those who concealed child sexual abuse to escape judicial proceedings in states where abuses were committed”.

The findings were not limited to clerical abuse, exploring other areas – from the classification of “illegitimate” children to the use of so-called baby boxes – where it said the Catholic church could improve its protection of children’s rights.

It was particularly critical of the Vatican’s handling of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries scandal, in which thousands of women and girls were abused and enslaved, saying a full Vatican investigation should be launched and the abusers prosecuted. It demanded full compensation be paid to the victims and their families who were caught up in the system in Ireland.

Last year the Irish state finally said sorry to 10,000 women and girls incarcerated in Catholic church-run laundries, where they were treated as virtual slaves. The taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said what happened to the Magdalene women had “cast a long shadow over Irish life, over our sense of who we are”, and he “deeply regretted and apologised” for the hurt and trauma inflicted.

Clerical sex abuse: the UN’s recommendations

• All known and suspected child abusers must be immediately removed from their positions and the relevant civil law enforcement authorities notified. This reporting to civil authorities must be mandatory; clear rules and procedures should be set up to facilitate it; and all church employees must be taught that these obligations prevail over church law.

• Pope Francis’s commission should investigate independently all cases of abuse and “the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them”. It should consider appointing representatives of civil society and victims groups.

• Archives of past cases dealt with by the Holy See must be opened to allow for both the abusers and those who may have sought to conceal their crimes and “knowingly placed offenders in contact with children” to be held accountable.

The committee’s findings are non-binding. The report notes that most of the recommendations made by the panel in 1995 have “not been fully addressed”.

U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse


U.N. Panel Criticizes the Vatican Over Sexual Abuse