CATHOLICS ON TRIAL AT THE UN
Mark: 9.42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
THE UN COMMITTEE ON CHILD ABUSE- CATHOLICISM ON TRIAL
A document recently obtained by The Associated Press on Friday the contents of which are not denied by the Vatican, shows former Pope, Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in a period of just two years. Their offence: sexually molesting children.
The Vatican’s own statistics for the period ending 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009. 2008 was the year in which the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who had been defrocked. Prior to that, the Vatican only reported “allegations” of sexual abuse reported to it and the number of trials it had authorized. 2011 saw a significant rise in the number of cases reported. It is suggested that this rise in statistics could be because 2010 saw media interest in the matter of church sex abuse against children grow exponentially in Europe and beyond.
The document now with AP was prepared by the Vatican and the data within compiled also by the Vatican to assist the Holy See defend itself against numerous allegations of cover ups, rape, pedophilia and other forms of abuse by the clergy before a U.N. committee on child abuse this week in Geneva.
FOXES IN CHARGE OF THE HEN HOUSE
The Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva Silvano Tomisi, evasively referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of pointed criticism and examination from the U.N. human rights committee. Interestingly these are statistics that were compiled from the Vatican’s own annual reports about the activities of its various offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department responsible for the oversight into sex abuse cases.
Although a public document, the annual reports are not readily available or sold outside Rome. They are usually found in Vatican offices or Catholic university libraries in a limited number of countries like Australia, the UK and the US where such disclosures are mandatory in the wake of criminal prosecutions and inquiries of serving bishops and priests.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XIV took action under immense international pressure and evidence presented to him that bishops around the world weren’t following church law (and local laws) by failing to subject accused priests to trial in church tribunals. Often the accusations were ignored and swept under the carpet in the hope they would go away. Victims were pressured not to speak by the church.
The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again. This is cited as a primary reason why as has been discovered in Australia, these priests often re offend, raping and molesting children even after being found guilty by church tribunals then defrocked. Although the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith make claims to having rigorously followed procedure and secured ‘convictions’ (internally) resulting in defrocking and other disciplinary measures against offending clerics, the UN committee has yet to see Tomisi’s evidence which he has to date only made reference to but not submitted in physical documentary form into evidence.
STATISTICS THAT SHOCK
In 2005, the Congregation it is said authorized bishops to launch church trials against 21 accused clerics, and reported that its appeals court had handled two cases. It didn’t say what the verdicts were, according to the annual reports cited by Tomisi. A similar number of cases to 2006 were reported in 2007 — 365 — but again the Congregation didn’t specify how many were abuse-related. Vatican officials, however, have said that it received between 300-400 cases a year in these years following the 2002 explosion of U.S. sex abuse cases in the U.S.
In 2007, 23 cases were sent to dioceses for trial. By 2008, the tone of the Vatican’s entry had changed. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, traveled to the scandal-hit United States that year and is quoted in the annual report as telling reporters en route that he was “mortified” by the scale of abuse and simply couldn’t comprehend “how priests could fail in such a way.” He then retired over a year ago in mysterious circumstances and has been confined to the Vatican for fear of execution of warrants on himself if he leaves the confines of the Vatican city.
The former Pope has no protections against arrest for crimes committed during his tenure as a Bishop and Cardinal. For the first time, an official Vatican document has made clear that nothing in the church process precluded victims from reporting abuse to police. It also suggests that the processes of the Vatican and its offices do not have legal effect outside its own jurisdiction.
FROM THE HOUSE OF SIN
There was also another first in 2008. Sexual abuse lawsuits in the U.S. named the Holy See as a defendant that year: For the first time, the Vatican revealed the number of priests who had been defrocked, 68 out of 191 new cases reported. A year later, the number of defrocked priests rose to 103, while some 223 new cases were reported.
The year 2010 was another milestone in the sex abuse saga, with the explosion of thousands of cases reported in the media across Europe and beyond. Some 527 cases were reported to the Congregation. No figures were given that year for the number of defrocked priests, rather the Congregation described new church laws put in place to more easily and quickly remove them. By 2011, with the new streamlined laws in place, the number of defrocked priests rose dramatically: 260 priests were removed in one year only, while 404 new cases of child abuse were reported.
In addition to those defrocked, another 419 priests had lesser penalties imposed on them for abuse-related crimes. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the number of defrockings dropped to 124, with another 418 new cases reported. Judging from the depraved character of priests and bishops within the Catholic church (Churches of other denominations too have a lurid record although the focus is on the largest, the Catholics), it is no wonder that they seek a distraction in matters such as abusing the word Allah, stirring a nest of hornets in the process so the public is distracted from the main game. The sexual molestation of children.
Wonder how many Christians check up on their children after these children have attended bible classes under priests and ask them those difficult questions they ought to as responsible parents. The Malaysian Catholic archdiocese is no stranger to reports of sexual abuse, violence and intimidation. Much of it dates back to the 1950’s when local priests and bishops took over from their departing colonial counterparts.
The De La Salle brothers, priests under the ‘watchful eye” of the much venerated late Dominic Vendargon are known to have engaged in an orgy of violence against the poor and those who questioned their flawed authority over them as exercised in draconian and high handed ways. Out of respect for their rights as a religion different to that of the majority, successive Malaysian governments have not intervened, preferring instead that the clergy and the dioceses be allowed in trust to exercise proper jurisprudence in its own jurisdiction. Sadly this trust has not only been broken with the faithful but also against Malaysia’s own majority and its government.