Austria- Time to abolish Concordat!

Austria- Time to abolish Concordat!

For immediate release: Friday, May 23, 2014

Statement by David D’Bonnabel of SNAP (+43 699 125 904 64)

Victims in Austria are grateful that a UN Committee today expressed concern about concordats and other agreements negotiated by Vatican officials that “may prevent prosecution of alleged perpetrators by limiting the ability of civil authorities to question, compel the production of documentation by or prosecute individuals associated with the Catholic Church.” The CAT urges that these troubling agreements should not be used to shield criminals. 

It is time for Austrian secular officials to ensure that Austrian children are protected and that those who are sexually violated by priests and others in the church have redress and justice. These unhealthy, archaic concordats endanger kids and protect criminals. For the safety of children, they should be abolished.

Here are facts from the UN CAT report as well as the actual Concordat in force today between Austria and the Vatican.

Section 15 of today’s report makes clear: “The Committee is concerned at allegations that concordats and other agreements negotiated by the Holy See with other States may effectively prevent prosecution of alleged perpetrators by limiting the ability of civil authorities to question, compel the production of documentation by, or prosecute individuals associated with the Catholic Church (arts. 2, 12, 13 and 16).”

It goes on to say, “The State party should consider reviewing its bilateral agreements concluded with other States, such as concordats, with a view to fulfilling its obligations under the Convention and preventing the agreements from serving to provide individuals alleged to have violated the Convention or believed to possess information concerning violations of the Convention with protection from investigation or prosecution by civil authorities as a result of their status or affiliation with the Catholic Church.”

The Concordat between Austria and the Vatican says, "If (a bishop) does not remove him (an abusive cleric, whether diocesan or religious order) from his office, the federal government will act.” Article 20th of the Concordat, Dolfuss 1933.

The two Articles have been used in Austria to shield child molesting clerics and to keep them immune from criminal prosecution by the civil authorities.

In 2010, the Klasnic Commission of the Austrian Catholic Church paid symbolic compensation and offered a letter of apology letters to over 1,800 victims of sexual abuse by clerics. But there is not even one single case in which a perpetrator priest was criminally prosecuted. 

Today’s UN report made several recommendations about concordats and other similar agreements. We in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, salute the UN panel for urging reviews of concordats and believe this is necessary to protect Austrian children. Protecting children is our main priority so this will help.

David D´Bonnabel, a survivor of priest sexual abuse, a local leader of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and President of Victims Mission Charity in Vienna.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com) or David D’Bonnabel of SNAP (+43 699 125 904 64)

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