UN report on Catholic priest sex abuse, and a chance for Pope Francis: Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board 

February 05, 2014 at 7:00 PM

The most surprising thing about today’s scathing United Nations rebuke of the Vatican over decades of unchecked child abuse had nothing to do with its content. The allegations of systemic rape and cover-ups weren't new, nor even shocking. The report compiles a tragic list of known crimes, and scolds the Catholic Church for inaction.

The surprise, instead, was the church’s response: outright criticism of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which conducted the inquiry, coupled with the tired “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” defense the church reserves for its strongest critics.

At its lowest point, the Vatican’s response accused the committee – a panel of independent experts on global children’s issues, not UN member states – of being co-opted by gay rights and gay marriage supporters.

The clumsy retort shows that Pope Francis – who’s winning fans even among the world’s atheists for his commentary on emerging issues of gay rights and income inequality – hasn't scratched the surface of the church’s Dark Ages mindset.

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