|Pope Francis' next involvement with the UN may not be so cordial.|
Where as the Hague has decided to sit on the Vatican case for crimes against humanity--at least for the time being, the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child has decided to hold the Vatican accountable to it's membership on this committee. Perhaps the Vatican will understand that rights for children mean more than being anti abortion. The following is the entire article by Alessandro Speciale from Vatican Insider
Judgement Day: The UN asks the Vatican to answer for the actions of peadophile priestsAlessandro Speciale - Vatican Insider - 7/10/2013 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has presented the Vatican with a long list of requests for information “on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns or brought to the attention of the Holy See.” The committee in question ensures that the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is respected. The list, comprising about twenty points, was sent to the Vatican on 1 July this year.
In the document, the UN committee asks the Vatican to specify which measures have been put in place to ensure no priest accused of sexual abuse is authorised to have contact with children. It asks the Vatican to provide the “explicit instructions given at all levels of the clergy to ensure the compulsory reporting to national competent authorities of all cases of sexual abuse.” The Vatican is also asked to mention cases where leaders of the Catholic Church were asked “not to report such offences, and at which level of the clergy.” (It will be interesting to see if the Vatican is forthcoming on this question.)
And this is just the beginning: The UN committee also wants further information about the kind of support the Holy See offers children who have suffered abuse, about canonical inquiries into paedophile priests and about how Church authorities have cooperated with national courts.
The committee also wants to find out more about the Church’s policy with regards to victims’ compensation, whether payments were handed out in exchange for victims’ silence and what measures were adopted to prevent any further cases of abuse.
The document highlights two cases in particular: the Magdalene’s laundries, Irish Catholic-run work houses, where female orphans were subjected to “torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and of subjection to force labour” and the Legion of Christ, which is accused of preventing seminarians from having contact with their families. (The Irish Government also has a lot to answer for in regards to the Magdalene laundries, and I'm pretty sure there is much more about the Legion than their refusal to let seminarians have contact with their families--not that this isn't an abuse for a twelve year old.)
The requested information will need to be presented by this coming 30 November. The questions are part of a periodic monitoring process which all countries that adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child – including the Holy See - must undergo. They are the follow-up to a bi-annual report which the Vatican presented last September. The Holy See is due to appear before the committee next January.
Last 18 June the committee met with representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). SNAP’s president, Barbara Blain described it as a historic moment: “The fact that a UN committee has called the Vatican to account for its record on children's rights, including the right to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, is giving survivors all over the world hope," she said.
SNAP hopes that other International organisations will follow in the UN’s footsteps, to shed light on the truth and prevent new hideous crimes of this kind.
The Holy See’s diplomatic mission in Geneva - where the UN human rights office is based – says it is ready to respond to the committee’s questions (the Vatican Secretary of State will prepare the reply) but it warned against potential “exploitation” of the information it provides. “We will definitely have to give some answers,” Mgr. Massimo de Gregori told Vatican Insider. (That's quite the grudging little statement.)
“That abuse was committed cannot be denied – the monsignor stressed – but it is important that this initiative is not limited exclusively to the Holy See. In light of certain cases, they consider it necessary to ask further questions. These questions are made at the committee’s discretion but they are asked on a frequent basis, as can be seen on their website.” “Although these facts are undeniably serious, there are those who will always try to exploit them,” he concluded. (As if Catholic children weren't exploited at a fundamental level.)
If Pope Benedict were still pope, I would have almost zero hope that those 'some' answers the Vatican will give will consist of anything more than has already been exposed in various court procedures, inquiries, and legal actions around the world, and I am not losing sight of the fact that most of those court procedures, inquiries, and legal actions have happened in the Anglo world. Nor have I lost sight of the tendency for the Vatican to continue to pretend the abuse crisis is mostly an Anglo problem. The truth is the Anglo problem is a problem for the Vatican because the Anglo legal systems take the sexual abuse of children very seriously. I also grant, that in regards to the Catholic Church, this is a very recent phenomenon, and may be directly related to the loss of the Vatican's authoritarian aura precipitated by Vatican II and Humanae Vitae. One thing Catholics can't ignore from the reams of material that have already come out is that lay Catholics did not find the courage to confront the Catholic hierarchy until long after Vatican II. Especially those lay Catholics in court houses and police stations.
I wish I had more hope that the Vatican under Pope Francis will be more forthcoming, but I really don't have much hope. There is still a huge component of the global Catholic hierarchy whose cover ups and abuses have not come to light. There are still areas in which whistle blowers are being punished, disinformation being touted as fact, and families silenced or left to deal with the aftermath of abuse on their own. And the reason never changes, and the bishops are never punished, and it's happening on Pope Francis' watch. It's always about protecting the moral authority of the Church, as in clerical authority, and not causing scandal to the simple people, as in don't give the simple people a reason to question clerical authority.
My advice to Pope Francis is pretty much the same advice given to Paul VI at the time of Humanae Vitae. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can shore up Church authority and papal prerogative by running away from the realities and expectations of the modern world. PVI chose to affirm papal teaching authority by issuing Humanae Vitae against the advice of his own papal commission who knew the old teaching did not fit modern reality. Papal authority with in both Catholicism and the world took a huge hit. JPII chose to ignore the clerical abuse crisis in order to protect Catholic moral standing and that of his own papacy and both took another huge hit. When circumstances forced him, Pope Benedict tried a muddled middle course of some truth coupled with more obfuscation and more pathetic attempts to shore up Papal teaching authority. He did neither the Church nor his own papacy any good. Clerical authority is now circling the drain.
Please Pope Francis, don't make these same mistakes by sacrificing what's left of Catholic moral authority on the altar of protecting clerical power and authority--especially yours. Come clean, admit error, instigate a thorough review of this issue with no off limits areas, make changes, and then move on. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. Paul VI couldn't do it, JPII couldn't do it, BXVI left you to doit, and I sure hope and pray you can.