Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New York Times Reports on 1997 Vatican Letter and Cover-up of Abuse Cases in Irish Church: Huge International Significance

As TheraP notes in a comment on my posting earlier today about the 1997 Vatican letter on which the Irish media reported this weekend, instructing Irish bishops not to report cases of clerical sexual abuse to the police, but to refer them directly to the Vatican, the New York Times now has a report on this story.  Linked to the Times report is a copy of the letter in question.

As the Times report notes, groups like the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are calling this letter a "smoking gun" which indicates that the cover-up of abuse cases went to the very top of the church, and that there was a Vatican-directed and Vatican-enforced policy within the Catholic church worldwide to hide information about these cases from civil authorities.  Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of Amnesty International, notes,  

The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere.

And already at some of the centrist American Catholic blogs, Catholics of the right, who exercise exorbitant influence in the conversations of the American Catholic center while the voices of progressive Catholics are routinely marginalized, are logging in to advance the shameful and very tired argument that survivors of abuse do not deserve attention, since they are motivated only by desire for payoffs.  As I've said and continue to maintain, this rhetoric is evil, and needs to be challenged by moderators of the blogs of the Catholic center, who don't hesitate to censor comments of progressive Catholics while letting those of Catholics of the right fly through--even when they make claims like this, denigrating the valuable testimony of survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

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