After Vatican officials were forced to answer questions last week at the UN about the Vatican's handling of sexual abuse of minor by Catholic religious officials, Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop Accountability emailed Bishop Accountability supporters an article entitled "UN Grills the Vatican: 5 Remarkable Moments." The article is apparently slated to appear in Bishop Accountability's online journal The Monitor, but I haven't yet seen it uploaded at that site.
However, Frank Douglas has helpfully published this document at his Voices from the Desert site. Among the five noteworthy moments in the recent UN grilling of the Vatican, here's the first that Doyle highlights:
For the first time, the Vatican had to admit publicly that it still does not require the reporting of child sex crimes to civil authorities. Committee member Jorge Cardona of Spain asked, "Shouldn't the Guidelines [the Vatican's 2011 instructions to bishops' conferences on abuse policies] refer to the fact that in all cases crimes must be reported?" Bishop Charles Scicluna replied, "Our guideline is to follow domestic law." [See more on this issue in our Report.]
The Bishop Accountability report to the UN (which I discussed recently in a previous posting) to which Doyle's statement points notes the following:
The Holy See’s policy of allowing bishops to not inform civil authorities of crimes against children has had devastating results. It has caused abusers to stay in ministry and children to be raped and sodomized.
The spotlight that just shone at the UN is now, of course, shining on Pope Francis, as Jerry Slevin points out in his most recent statement at Christian Catholicism--since, despite the attempt of Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi and Bishop Charles Scicluna to inform the UN committee that the Vatican has no effective control over its bishops and priests, we all know well that the highly centralized, top-down governing system of the Catholic church places full control of each and every diocese throughout the world in the hands of the Vatican:
As the Francis' honeymoon period winds down, the fundamental question for Catholics arises ever sharply— how "good" can the new pope really be, if he would shelter child predators and their complicit bishops much like his shameful predecessors did? How Good is a Shepherd who does not effectively protect the youngest lambs among the sheep, especially when Jesus clearly mandated the need to protect children?
For National Catholic Reporter, Tom Fox echoes the concern about how Francis's inability or refusal to address the abuse crisis will affect his image:
Despite Pope Francis' heartfelt expressions of lament over priest sex abuse last week, the Geneva hearing suggests to date he does not understand the full magnitude of the related sex abuse issues, or, if he does, is yet unwilling or incapable of responding to it.
I so want Francis to succeed in his multiple reform efforts it is heartbreaking to think he might miss the ball on clergy sex abuse – and cover-up. (With the emphasis here on “cover-up.)
And as Anthea Butler tells Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches a few days ago,
Pope Francis has been a breath of fresh air, but that does not change the structural issues that need to be dealt with.
Please see this subsequent posting which is a footnote to the one above.