Voiceless Victim

A survivor of clergy child sexual abuse speaks out for those who can't speak for themselves

Getting it is not an accomplishment. Getting rid of it is. When’s that going to happen?

I am reposting here in full an excellent editorial written by Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) about the disgraceful performance of the Vatican’s paedophile protectors in front of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on January 16, 2014.

Bishop Charles Scicluna at the UN, the face of Vatican compassion for children they knowingly exposed to rapists

Bishop Charles Scicluna at the UN, the face of Vatican compassion for children they knowingly exposed to rapists

EDITORIAL

 “The Holy See gets it,” Msgr. Charles Scicluna, declared before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child at a meeting in Geneva, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Getting it” is not an accomplishment.

Getting rid of it is.

Not only is “getting it” not an accomplishment, it’s not an “ah hah” moment, it’s not even Christianity.

Getting the rape and sodomy of children is basic humanity.

Raping and sodomizing children is criminal.

Luring children into situations where you can rape and sodomize them is criminal.

This is not a complex theological argument.

Getting it is when Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, MO packs a moving van after being removed from his office.

Getting it is extraditing a Polish archbishop to Poland to answer Polish authorities’ questions about being a sexually abusive priest/archbishop — one who is being investigated in the Dominican Republic and Poland. Getting it is not saying you will deal with the matter with your own courts.

Getting it is releasing the documents. They are the place where the truth lives.

Removing Finn, extraditing Weslowski, releasing the truth doesn’t take commissions, papal or otherwise.

They take a Pope.

The Vatican has had one for over 2,000 years. In some years, it’s had more than one.

You can “get” this intellectually or emotionally – your choice – but out of basic humanity the journey is not a long one, the road is not laden with obstacles, the distance from Point A to Point B is short.

Getting this is simple.

Adults under no circumstances should rape or sodomize children. Period.

People who are in authority over those who rape and sodomize children shouldn’t harbor the people who do it, provide the needs of life for them, shuttle them into safe places, or hide them.  If they do, they are complicit in the rape and sodomy of children.

This is doubly, if not triply true if you are a religious institution which claims 1.2 billion members and you have a sign out that says you know the way to the moral life and you are exporting it.

It is inherently true if this religious institution also has a sign out that proclaims the priests of its largest rite as well as the professed men and women religious in the outfit don’t have sex, period – not with anybody, least of all by raping and sodomizing children.

If Catholics and the world at large accept the “we get it” explanation along with the rest of the Vatican representatives’ testimony before the UN Committee as to what is good and right and proper and what needs to be done for justice to be had in this crisis — it’s outrageous.

What the Vatican ”gets” is that the world is catching on to it and it had no other viable defensive option than to appear before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

The world is catching on, make no mistake about this, because of the courage and the dedicated hard work of the survivors.

Here we applaud the heavy lifting that is done by SNAP.

And when you are causing the world to “grill” in unprecedented fashion one of its most powerful institutions, that’s some lifting.

The Vatican representatives ducked and dodged and deflected in the testimony before the UN.

We make available for you at the end of this editorial the text of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi,’s address as the Vatican Information Service presented it.

We call your attention to the Vatican’s characterization that Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was at Geneva as part of a periodic reporting event, — not as a player in an historic, unfiltered sit-down-and-answer-questions about your record on the sexual abuse of children for all the world to see and hear.

Routine event as the Vatican Information Service tried to characterize it in its official record? Nothing could be further from the truth. Seems in cover-up, as in war, truth is also the first casualty.

The catalyst for this particular committee “grilling” as news reports told the world, was the failure of the Vatican to provide required annual reports as a signer on the UN Treaty of the Child. The failure existed for 11 years. Some periodic reporting.

We will give the Vatican this: along with Tomasi whom they could have sent alone, — they did send Monsignor Scicluna and to his credit Scicluna went. Scicluna knows where the bodies are buried and it was a high level risk to send him. He worked for Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He knows what’s in those records at the Congregation.

One has to wonder as Scicluna sat there being grilled by civil authorities if he thought that his former boss in the Congregation of Faith, should have been sitting there taking the heat or at least feeling it radiate at the other end of a video conferencing camera within his Vatican castle.

Catholics, we do hope, will not be hoodwinked by this performance and add insult to injury to survivors by being sucked into another re-run of “it’s history.”

Pope Benedict XVI had every opportunity on any day of the week, any moment of the day or night, during nearly the entire papacy of Pope John Paul II  and the entirety of his own papacy to clean house of sexual abusers, to move the backlog of laicization cases still gathering dust in the Congregation, to remove abusive and cover-up bishops, to release Vatican documents, to order bishops and cardinals and congregations to release documents, to order bishops, cardinals and congregations to release names, — to come clean.

He didn’t do it.

That’s a choice, a clear choice, not a failure or a deficiency in “getting it.”

The sitting pope had scandal on his mind, too, as his representatives were on the hot seat in Geneva.

Said Pope Francis, it is reported, in his homily:

“But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know…We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money…. The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?(emphasis added). Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! ‘But, I wear a medal,’ ‘I carry the Cross ‘ … Yes, just as those who bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those from whom scandals come … And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests.”

We added the emphasis to the  phrase “ priests, bishops and laity” because we believe there should be howls of protest from the laity – who never see the light of day in parallel references with priests and bishops when it comes to anything else in the Church but they are lumped into the shame of scandals in equal proportion.

This is insulting.

Yes, there are lay people who have been on parish or school staffs that have abused –they have been prosecuted in vastly higher numbers than priests and bishops who have abused and covered up abuse , no comparison — and after being accused they have not been given hiding places and financial underpinning by the Church — nor had their bail paid by the Church. There are lay chancery officials who have covered up but their known number does not rise to anywhere near equal portion to the known number of priests and bishops who have abused and covered up and who had and have the power to end this crisis but fail to end this crisis. Same holds true on the financial scandal front.

This largest crisis in the Church in the last 500 hundred years has not been caused by  lay people. Good grief.

Getting it is not an accomplishment.

Getting rid of it is.

When’s that going to happen?

Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

TEXT of the Vatican Information Service report:  

Vatican City, 16 January 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke this morning before the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). He presented the Holy See’s periodic report on this issue.

ARCHBISHOP TOMASI BEFORE COMMITTEE OF CHILD RIGHTS: HOLY SEE AND ITS INSTITUTIONS ARE COMMITTED TO DEFENCE OF INVIOLABLE DIGNITY OF EACH CHILD

Vatican City, 16 January 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke this morning before the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). He presented the Holy See’s periodic report on this issue.

“The protection of children remains a major concern for contemporary society and for the Holy See,” the prelate said. “… Abusers are found among members of the world’s most respected professions, most regrettably, including members of the clergy and other church personnel. …”

“Confronted with this reality, the Holy See has carefully delineated policies and procedures designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with respective State authorities to fight against this crime. The Holy See is also committed to listen carefully to victims of abuse and to address the impact such situations have on survivors of abuse and on their families. The vast majority of church personnel and institutions on the local level have provided, and continue to provide, a wide variety of services to children by educating them, and by supporting their families, and by responding to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Egregious crimes of abuse committed against children have rightly been adjudicated and punished by the competent civil authorities in the respective countries.”

“Therefore, the response of the Holy See to the sad phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors has been articulated in different ambits. On the level of the Holy See, as the Sovereign of Vatican City State, the response to sexual abuse has been in accord with its direct responsibility over the territory of Vatican City State. In this regard, special legislation has been enacted to implement international legal obligations, and covers the State, and its tiny population.”

“On the international level, the Holy See has taken concrete action by the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. In 2000, the Holy See acceded to the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, as well as the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The Holy See then promotes and encourages these international instruments.”

“At the same time, the Holy See as the central organ of the Catholic Church has formulated guidelines to facilitate the work of the local Churches to develop effective measures within their jurisdiction and in conformity with canonical legislation.”

“Local Churches, taking into account the domestic law in their respective countries, have developed guidelines and monitored their implementation with the aim of preventing any additional abuse and dealing promptly with it, in accordance with national law whenever it occurs. … The result of the combined action taken by local Churches and by the Holy See presents a framework that, when properly applied, will help eliminate the occurrence of child sexual abuse by clergy and other church personnel.”

The Permanent Observer explained that “the Holy See’s ‘Periodic Report on the CRC’ is divided into four Parts: Part I deals with general considerations, including the nature of the Holy See as a subject of international law. Part II responds to the concluding observations of the Committee to the Holy See’s Initial Report, and, in particular, questions concerning reservations; the Committee’s four principles and the duties and rights of parents, the education of girls, education about health, and education on the CRC. The Holy See also discusses the principles it promotes concerning the rights and duties of the child within the context of the family. Part III presents the international contributions of the Holy See in advancing and promoting basic principles recognized in the CRC on a full range of issues pertaining to children (e.g., the family, adoption, children with disabilities; health and welfare; leisure and culture; and special measures to protect children, including questions pertaining to sexual abuse, drug addiction, children living on the streets and minority groups). Finally, Part IV addresses the implementation of the Convention in Vatican City State.”

“In the end, there is no excuse,” the prelate repeated, “for any form of violence or exploitation of children. Such crimes can never be justified, whether committed in the home, in schools, in community and sports programs, or in religious organizations and structures. This is the long-standing policy of the Holy See. … For this reason, the Holy See, and local Church structures in all parts of the world, are committed to holding inviolable the dignity and entire person of every child—body, mind, and spirit.”

“Pope Benedict XVI,” the prelate concluded, “speaking to the Bishops of Ireland in 2006 had these important words to say: ‘In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.’ … Likewise, Pope Francis clearly … undertook new action and has announced the creation of a Commission for the Protection of Minors, with the aim of proposing new initiatives for the development of safe environment programs for children and improving efforts for the pastoral care for victims of abuse around the world.”

Stay safe everyone.

VV

One response to “Getting it is not an accomplishment. Getting rid of it is. When’s that going to happen?

  1. voicelessvictim January 21, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Here’s a link to NSAC’s website. If you are interested in this topic you can sign up to their email newsletter for a regular summary of recent developments.

    http://nationalsurvivoradvocatescoalition.wordpress.com

    VV

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