For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013
Statement by SNAP leader Mary Caplan of New York (email@example.com)
Despite having taken virtually no steps whatsoever – as head of a diocese, a religious order or now, the worldwide church - to protect children or expose predators or punish enablers or reform laws relating to abuse, Pope Francis continues to enjoy considerable personal popularity. Carrying his own luggage, paying his own hotel bill, living in smaller quarters, and talking more about the poor are admirable moves. They do not, however, address the most devastating crisis the church faces – and has faced for decades – heinous crimes against kids.
That’s why we in SNAP – with the valuable help and support of the Center for Constitutional Rights – continue to prod secular authorities, especially at the international level – to do what the pontiff and his top aides refuse to do: prevent the raping and sodomizing of children by publicly exposing those who commit and conceal this awful violence.
Today SNAP and CCR are submitting another report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In it, we document more recent clergy child sex crimes and cover ups across the world and the refusal of Catholic officials to stop them. And in it, we harshly criticize Pope Francis’ dreadfully disappointing and disingenuous response to a legitimate request for information about this crisis by this UN panel.
Days ago, the pontiff filed a formal response to the UN panel’s questions. He claims that the Vatican can provide information only about known and alleged child sex crimes that have happened on Vatican property. This is a dodge, and not an artful one. We suspect that virtually no one on the planet believes it. Nor should they.
For decades, powerful prelates have pretended to be powerless about predator priests. That is a ruse. And now, the world’s most powerful prelate pretends to be powerless even about providing information about those priests. This claim severely contradicts Pope Francis’ public image as a compassionate “straight shooter.”
Decades ago, the Vatican signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As part of that treaty, the Vatican agreed to give evidence that they are honoring it. Now, they’re refusing to do so.
We believe top Catholic officials have broken and are breaking this treaty. Further, we believe they are thumbing their noses at the United Nations, as so many Catholic officials have done and still do at other secular authorities who try to protect kids and stop child molesting clerics. This must stop.
We look forward to next month, when top Catholic officials will be questioned – in public – by members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Rome. Theirs is a tough track record to defend.
And we look forward to more and more secular agencies stepping up and working harder to hold Catholic officials responsible for clergy sexual violence and cover ups – those in the past and those happening right now.