If the Pope were really progressive, he'd speak about child rape
By: ELIZABETH RENZETTI
Feb. 10 2014
The Catholic Church probably thought the stormiest waters were behind. With a charismatic, groovy Pope at the helm, the church has been sailing an unexpectedly friendly sea. As if, perhaps, everyone had forgotten that thing. You know, that thing: The tens of thousands of children broken by abuse suffered at the hands of clergy. The priests left unpunished. The official silence.
And then, suddenly, a bolt from the sky, which religious types might imbue with a certain significance. Or you could see it as a glimpse of justice arriving far too late. A blistering report issued last week by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child noted, “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 practices and policies which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”
The language in the report is surprisingly blunt and fierce, as it should be. Victims, who suffered a double torment – abuse of their bodies by people who were meant to look after their souls – deserve a public reckoning at the very least, and ideally justice in a court setting. For too long the church has pretended this is an internal issue, a matter of ethics and doctrine and not of criminal justice, to be swept under a medieval carpet and never spoken of again. The UN committee notes that it took 14 years for Vatican representatives to answer its request to come and offer testimony.
A “code of silence” imposed on clergy has meant that transgressors were rarely brought to court, the report alleges. Astonishingly, it seems some of those priests still have contact with children.
The church, even at the high levels, has often refused to co-operate with judicial authorities. The committee calls for the church to share its vast wealth of data about the abuse scandals with law officials, and for a long-delayed action: “Immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities.”
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