Geneva- Second statement by clergy abuse victims regarding UN report
For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014
Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, board member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259, [email protected])
It's utterly tragic that a respected international panel of experts feels, in 2014, compelled to tell Catholic officials that they must “Immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.”
That is, of course, common sense and common decency. That the church hierarchy must be told this is damning.
It's striking that the United Nations panel stresses that the Vatican' wrongdoing is on-going. Some Catholic officials and their public relations teams try very hard to pretend that they're “reforming.” This report shows that's largely deception.
Here are five of the panels' most important findings
1) The Vatican “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.”
(This is, in our view, a dreadful understatement. Hundreds of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics still hold church jobs or are around kids. Only a tiny fraction of credibly accused and suspended child molesting priests, nuns, bishops, brothers and seminarians are monitored by church officials (and even then, not monitored well). An even smaller group are ever criminally prosecuted. So most sex offender clergy remain either on the job or unsupervised.)
2) The Vatican “has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry." and has “policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”
3) On “numerous occasions,” the Vatican “has refused to cooperate with law enforcement authorities and to disclose information requested by prosecutors and national commissions of inquiry”
4) The Vatican “has signed treaties with certain States, notably Italy, which guarantee areas of immunity from prosecution to Vatican officials, including for bishops and priests accused of offences.”
5) The Vatican should “promote the reform of statute of limitations in countries where they impede victims of child sexual abuse from seeking justice.” (In reality, time and time again, Catholic officials have fought hard against this simple reform.)
The panel flatly rejected Vatican officials' claims that:
– it doesn't control priests across the planet ("child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide".
--it is responsible only for abuse and cover up on actual Vatican property in Rome.
Still, we expect virtually no change at the Vatican. Catholic officials have long proven that they are immune to pressure, whether from secular institution or its own members.
But we do hope.
And we believe.
We are deeply grateful to every single victim of Catholic clerics across the globe who has found the strength to break their silence and report their abuse to anyone. This is a vindication for every one of us.
We are especially grateful to our supporters, like the Center for Constitutional Rights, who are helping tremendously to safeguard children and expose corruption.
But we are sobered by this report, which painfully reminds us of just how selfish, reckless and recalcitrant the ancient, rigid, secretive Catholic hierarchy remains, even under Pope Francis.
Finally, a more fair a process would be hard to imagine. This is an independent panel of international experts who didn't unilaterally launch this effort. They simply did their jobs, investigating thoroughly, listening to victims and Vatican officials, and responding to a treaty willingly signed by top Catholic officials who knew that someday, this reckoning would come.
NOTE - The BBC wrongly reports “The Vatican has set up a commission to fight child abuse in the Church.” This is false. Months ago, Pope Francis hastily announced, through a spokesman, that he plans to set up such a commission. But he has not done so.
(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 15,000 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, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])