First, the break they caught: for the first time, on a major international scale the world has heard what the victims have been saying for years. That’s historic. The David of Truth has slain the Goliath of the Code of Silence.
For that, the survivors deserve an immense amount of credit.
It’s only through the courage, the perseverance, and the suffering of the survivors that the people in the pews and the world at large have learned of the extent of this largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in 500 years.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child Report is described in news reports as “scathing,” and “blistering” against the Vatican regarding sexual abuse.
The Church is called out on a global stage for its “code of silence” and the upholding of the Church’s reputation and the protection of the perpetrators over concern for and action on behalf of children — the victims.
Here are links to news coverage of the UN Report:
Within the Los Angeles Times report is the UN Document.
The report did call for the “immediate removal of all known and suspected child abuses” from their positions and the referring of the matters to law enforcement for prosecution
The report did acknowledge the cover –up by the hierarchy
What it did not do is call for the removal, immediate or otherwise, of those who covered up from their positions of authority and esteem in the Church or the entry of law enforcement to investigate them.
We ask our readers to act and re-double efforts as citizens to be heard at every level of government in the United States, at the federal level in the US Departments of Justice and State, the Congress, State Legislatures and School Boards to move the fight forward to protect children and open wide the opportunities for access to justice to survivors.
This doesn’t stop at the borders. Perpetrators have been allowed to slip through the borders and be shielded from extradition when identified.
Citizen action is needed and necessary to spur independent investigations by law enforcement of perpetrators and those who aided and abetted them in the rape and sodomy of children and the victimization of children through pornography, along with the passage of laws to extend the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual abuse. We think Catholics can and should find the impetus for this in their faith.
This also doesn’t stop at the borders. American voices are needed in the international struggle for the protection of children and justice for the survivors.
We ask and urge our readers and all men and women of goodwill to re-double their efforts in whatever they are doing to support survivors: making financial contributions, writing letters to the editor, contacting government officials, legislators, demonstrating, leafleting, listening and raising the issue of the horrors of the rape and sodomy of children in every arena, setting, interaction, network and media available to them.
Because, important as the UN Report is, the break the survivors didn’t catch is this: After all that courage in a struggle that the survivors have borne virtually alone the UN chose to link the hot button issues of the Roman Catholic Church to this report: abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage and gender identification in the Church’s Canon law.
What the UN Committee did was open the drawbridge on the moat it sought to create through the Protection of the Child Treaty and allow the Vatican to scream – and be heard – on the cries of bias, discrimination, and interference in its internal religious affairs. These only balloon the Church’s deflect and dodge strategy regarding the crime of sexual abuse.
One has to wonder why the UN Committee chose to step into these low-lying religious- fruit arenas when it left out concern for children and what the Vatican could do through both its more-than bully pulpit and its nuncio structure. Nor did it mention its bishops conferences regarding the effect on children of hunger caused by uneven food supplies, national immigration policies, child labor policies and educational systems that cost too much for all children to enroll or which discriminate against them by gender. Nor did they point out wars among all the other dangers that children face and need to be protected from throughout the world.
The UN Committee had to see the Church’s response coming when it included allowing abortion in its report that the greatest danger to a child is to be killed.
In the most measured Vatican response in the news reports, the Vatican’s new Secretary of State Pietro Paroling says the Vatican will provide a detailed response to the UN report. We hope so.
In responding, we hope the Church peels away hypocrisy, deflection, and puffery on the meager steps it has taken and finally gets down to business – the business of protecting the vulnerable, the children.
It doesn’t take a commission for the Church to do what is right regarding the sexual abuse of children and minors by priests and nuns and the cover-up of the abuse by the hierarchy and chancery and curia officials.
All Pope Francis and the Vatican structure need to combat sexual abuse are the Scriptures and the will to combat it.
The first component the Vatican has in abundance, in big books, little books, books in every language, beautifully decorated books, plain books, and digital books.
The second component is the sticking point.
Does Pope Francis have the will to remove hierarchs who have covered up the rape and sodomy of children, protected perpetrators, and allowed child pornographers to continue victimizing children?
Does he have the will to make it clear by action and not just words that without a shadow of a doubt that the rape and sodomy of children and minors – and the victimizing of children through pornography and sex trafficking by clerics, nuns, and hierarchs — and the protection thereof is cause for immediate dismissal from the ranks of the priesthood and religious orders?
To whom much is given, much is expected.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com