The Vatican Sex Abuse Hearing in One Word: Troubling


Thursday, representatives from the Vatican went before a United Nations panel to discuss the way the Catholic Church has handled, and covered up, numerous instances of sexual abuse by priests worldwide.

The public record from this hearing, the first time representatives from the Holy See had been subjected to public questioning of this nature, offers little consolation to those who had been waiting for Pope Francis to offer meaningful reforms that might help him live up to his “Person of the Year” designation. Instead, we were given additional reasons to believe that the all-male hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church must not be entrusted to come up with a program that will resolve and redress sexual crimes within its flock. Further, we were given additional reasons to question the Vatican’s role in the international law community.

First, the hearing came a bit overdue. The Vatican ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. After an initial report in 1994, the Holy See did not submit a progress report to the international body until 2012. It’s shocking that those reports and Thursday’s hearing took so long; those 18 years were filled with revelations of sex abuse by priests, associated cover-ups by Vatican officials, and international cries for accountability.

To those who think Pope Francis, the alleged reformer, has it covered, a closer examination of the facts suggests otherwise: It wasn’t until last year that the criminal code was updated to specify sexual violence against children as a crime. Further, a new commission established by the pope to address the crisis of child molestation by priests lacks judicial authority and instead focuses on providing care to victims of abuse—quite a sick idea, given that internal supervision mechanisms from the Vatican have no track record of providing appropriate care, much less justice, for the victims of abuse by Catholic priests.

These small efforts are window dressing. In the areas of sexual abuse by priests and beyond, the Catholic hierarchy has repeatedly proven itself to have zero moral authority in the areas of sexuality and human rights.

During Thursday’s hearing, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi claimed that the Vatican was separate from the Catholic Church, at least with regards to being held accountable for sexual abuse within the parishes. “Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican,” he said. “Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country.”

If this is the case, then what, pray tell, is the Vatican doing representing the worldwide membership of its own hierarchy in the United Nations? No other religion gets a formal seat at the table.

The Vatican wants to claim it is a state actor only when it is convenient for its political goals, which include hiding and shirking responsibility for sexual violence and oppression within its own midst, while also continuing an overt campaign for sexual oppression against reproductive health care and the rights of women and LGBTQ people under the aegis of international law.

When it comes to priests who have abused children, the Vatican wants to claim that they (and presumably those who knowingly covered up their crimes for them) are citizens of specific states and shouldn’t have to answer to the United Nations. When it comes to human rights treaties and international progress, the Vatican wants to claim it is a nation-state and use that status to try to water down human rights treaties when they are being drafted, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and later to prevent nations from ratifying them, all in the name of being supposedly “pro-life” on top of a pile of alleged moral authority that includes covering up the sexual abuse of children.

If Pope Francis wishes to be a reformer, he must do more to shake up the Vatican hierarchy. He must insist that his men embrace more transparency—and more responsibility—on the issue of child sexual abuse by priests. Catholics around the world deserve better than the same old secrecy, blame-shifting, and strategic double-speak that was on full display Thursday in Geneva.

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  • CJ99

    So the vatican wants all the rights & privileges of being a nantion state with no responsibilities. How many other foreign goverments would be allowed to operate with impugnity worldwide with its functionaries openly commiting crimes against people and expect no accountability? we’ve got plent of examples, world war 2, paul pot, rwanda, serbia / croatia, a number of places in the middle east, much of that still ongoing. I could build a wall of text listing all the examples just in the past century. Makes me wonder if we humans in this world will only stop abusing each other when theres none of us left.

    • RonPaul2012

      James Finnegan just told us that the church has never hurt anyone…

      • L-dan

        And I suppose this is how he can say that. Individual priests hurt people, but ‘the church’ did nothing.*

        *nothing = hide the pedophiles, shuffle them to new pools of unsuspecting victims, run Magdalene laundries and homes for ‘fallen women’, demand that hospitals let miscarrying women die…

        • colleen2

          It really helps to recognize that the Catholic church does not regard women as fully human, more like 3/5ths human and thus not entitled to freedom of religion, conscience or a voice. Women need to be told what to believe and how to behave simply because we are inferior human beings. As you remind us, the Catholic church was using women as slave labor until the late 90’s. And burying the slaves in unmarked graves when they died.

          • HeilMary1

            Early Christian “theologians” believed women didn’t have souls.

          • DavidPun

            I am struggling to find the right word to describe what you say. But total 100% BS is the most respectful I can think of. Where are you getting this stuff from?

          • colleen2

            ‘bullshit’ is precisely the word I use to describe Catholic dogma as it relates to women. I want the Church paying taxes and out of the healthcare, adoption and child protection business. It has failed

          • DavidPun

            Look I am not going to try to defend the RCC or any church, but if I say it politely, your statements about the RCC are just completely false….you know… not factual, no basis in reality. I’m not saying I support what the RCC actually does teach about women. I am just saying that both sides in an argument CAN be wrong and your wild allegations are as wrong as some of their wild heavenly fantasies.
            Also, other than Catholic Hospitals where they are obviously involved, what exact role do you think the RCC has in determining any of these things? Most people simply ignore them.
            You are like one these fanatics that are hunting for flying saucers or the Yeti or something. Of course there are issues that people may want to oppose any religious organization, but your laundry list is just off the wall.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling
          • DavidPun

            I said it before. Don’t go to a Roman Catholic hospital if you don’t want to follow RC principles.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling
          • colleen2

            That isn’t the way it works. Catholic hospitals receive public funding and medicare/medicaid patients. As such they really cannot legally demand the right to kill women for no other reason than that our bodies can’t sustain a pregnancy. If the Roman Catholic church wants to stay in the hospital business then the Roman Catholic church needs to stop pretending it can force us to comply with it’s absurd, misogynistic doctrines.

          • colleen2

            You are incorrect and in denial. That Roman Catholic church treats women like garbage . The Roman Catholic church hates women so much that they excommunicate priests who believe women are the spiritual equals of human males (a mighty low bar there if you ask me) and do not excommunicate Priests who spend their entire careers raping small disabled children. The Roman Catholic church hates women so much that they ENSLAVED women in Ireland up to the late 90’s and blamed negligent mothers for the fact that Catholic priests rape children as a perk of their employment and have been doing so FOR CENTURIES. They hate women so much that they are an active, malevolent danger to any pregnant woman who enters one of their vile, over priced hospitals.
            So, no I am not interested in your lies about your ‘faith’ and I certainly am not interested in becoming a right wing Roman Catholic woman. I would feel too ashamed. The notion that we are expected to listen to and follow ‘spiritual’ advice from such men is absurd and deeply insulting.

          • DavidPun

            What brand of weed are you smoking? We evidently don’t live on the same planet. You presumably think I am totally twisted and sick, and I know you are from that last post.

          • colleen2

            David…insults and denial don’t make an argument. The Roman Catholic church, the Republican party and the religious right in general treat women like garbage.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            ” I certainly am not interested in becoming a right wing Roman Catholic woman. I would feel too ashamed. The notion that we are expected to listen to and follow ‘spiritual’ advice from such men is absurd and deeply insulting.”
            ………
            I am a Catholic baptized and confirmed. I despise the Roman Catholic hierarchy. I am more than ashamed. I am in despair.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            She reads. Literacy is the greatest enemy the RCC has. That is why St. Thomas More burned folks for owning a Bible printed in English. Not much has changed.

          • DavidPun

            I’m not really interested in what the RCC or any church believes.

          • Jennifer Starr

            And yet you’ve frequently posted about and defended the Catholic faith and the Pope. For someone who claims not to be interested, that’s pretty. odd.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            Liar.

          • colleen2

            then fuck off.

          • DavidPun

            Best wishes to you too.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            Works for me.

          • DavidPun

            Did he really? I didn’t know that. Where did you hear about more recent cases of people being burned for reading the Bible? I’m curious.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            “I’m not really interested in what the RCC or any church believes.”
            ………
            You lie whenever it is convenient to do so and you even lie sometimes just for shitz and giggles.

        • HeilMary1

          The RCC’s centuries of hiding pedophiles made its hiding of Nazis a cakewalk.

          • DavidPun

            Again, I am not trying to defend the sexual misbehavior of the RCC, but the response of the RCC to the Nazis is absolutely 100% documented and understood by any number of credible historians. If the RCC had taken a firm public stand against the Nazis it would have resulted in100s of thousands of deaths if not millions. Only a toal imbecile would claim that the RCC was not radically opposed to the Nazi party and Hitler.

            HeilMary1, you are fabricating stories to justify what is evidently a pathological hatred of the RCC. Personally, I would be happy if all religion suddenly vanished from the planet and perhaps I could encourage people with your poisonous attitude to join them.

        • DavidPun

          I’m not sure what your point is. The US is the biggest paedophile paradise on the planet and it is tolerated by the American people for whatever reason. Geez, the good folks of Texas were found to have been running two of their youth prisons as paedophile rings in 2007 and it took till 2011 for them to shut them down….actually they were not shut down, they just changed their names. But then again, most of the kids were black so in Texas that really excused most of it.
          My point….I condemn the RCC for their laxity on these issues, but most of the criticism is complete, total f*g hypocrisy and denial.

      • CJ99

        Yeah we can tell that to the yeti we go bowling with on thursday nights ;P

      • HeilMary1

        Finnegan believes already born kids and women and all non-Catholic “heretics” don’t count as human.

    • DavidPun

      CJ99: “How many other foreign goverments would be allowed to operate with impugnity worldwide with its functionaries openly commiting crimes against people and expect no accountability? ”
      Lets see now… how about the US??? I am currently working on a project to raise money for medical treatment of over 5,000 Iraqi children dying of cancer due to the use of depleted uranium bullets by US soldiers. This is a particularly horrific form of cancer since it essentially induces a widespread destruction of the skin which once mutated starts to grow in a horrific form where the skin virtually dissolves causing excruciating nerve pain. The US was aware of the horrific collateral damage caused by this technology after two separate engagements in Africa about ten years before Iraq blew up but have refused to stop using these weapons. What does the average US citizen think about this? Nothing. Most don’t know and don’t care. ( I’ll pass on their best wishes to the kids while they are fighting the Vatican.)

      • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

        But Mommy, Johnny did it too-oo. It is not fair. Whaaaaaah.

        • DavidPun

          I assume from your infantile response that you have exhausted what little rational arguments you have…not that that would be difficult.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            That “infantile response” is YOUR response.

          • DavidPun

            Are we on the same site? The posting topic was about the RCC engaging in and covering up sex abuse and the UNs response.You are the one who keeps getting hung up on your fanatical rants about women’s health issues. To be brutally honest. I don’t really care about women’s health issues. Its no more important than anyone elses heath issues.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            “To be brutally honest. I don’t really care about women’s health issues. Its no more important than anyone elses heath issues.”

            ……………………….
            You just thought you would enter a discussion you do not care about? Why? And why do you stay? You are getting your ass kicked. It is lovely to read.

          • DavidPun

            That’s the crazy thing. I only hit this site on Google News when I was trying to see what peoples views were on the the UN vs the Vatican. I had no idea I was entering into the vampires den.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            Consensus: long live the UN and bag the Pope and his minions.

          • colleen2

            too many uppity women?

          • Jennifer Starr

            Oh for heaven’s sake–you’re hardly a victim.

          • Mirable

            If you are going to nail yourself to a cross, at least take your shirt off first.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Object to this phrase: “resolve and redress sexual crimes within its flock.”
    It is the shepherd’s doing the sheep that is the problem.

    • HeilMary1

      The holy kiddie diddlers think that form of fleecing is better than outright beastiality and sex with adult women.

      • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

        Yes. That is why they can and are so cruel to women. It is interesting that there is always a Marty altar in a Catholic church. I wonder if women would even go there if there were not one. The Mary altar is the only reason I would go.