Victims hope probe will stem sex abuse by priests

2014-01-14 21:49

Geneva - Victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests said on Tuesday they hoped UN scrutiny of the Vatican would help finally to hold perpetrators to account and halt future violations.

"This is an important moment for those of us who were raped, sodomised and sexually violated as children by priests," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap), a global coalition based in the United States.

"Over the years, we've struggled to understand why Church officials continue to support and cover up for sexual predators," Blaine told reporters, two days before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was to examine the Vatican's record.

"We're hoping that finally the truth will be exposed and, more importantly, the Church officials will change what they are doing and that Pope Francis will take action that will actually protect children," she added.

Signatories of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child agree to be scrutinised by a watchdog panel.

Thursday marks the Vatican's second examination. Its debut was in 1995, before the abuse of minors by Catholic priests burst into the spotlight.

For more than a decade, the Church has been rocked by a cascade of scandals from Ireland to the United States and from Australia to Germany.

The Vatican says it continues to receive around 600 claims against abusive priests every year, many dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Victims' groups, however, say the issue is far from settled and that the tally could well be in the hundreds of thousands.

Abuse has often been coupled with cover-ups by priests' superiors, typically transfers to other parishes, rather than turning them over to police.

A 1986 internal Church report on abuse had little or no impact, said Spanish Snap member Miguel Hurtado.

"When that report was written, I was four years old. When I was abused, I was 16. They had 12 years to try to sort out the problem. They had 12 years to try to implement measures. They had 12 years in which they did absolutely nothing," he said.

Benedict XVI, pontiff from 2005 to 2013, was the first pope to apologise to victims and called for zero tolerance of abuse.

Campaigners claim that rhetoric took the place of concrete results.

Hurtado cited the case of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, who remains in office despite being convicted in 2012 by a US court for shielding an abuser.

He contrasted the Church's handling of those who question doctrine.

"If he had advocated ordination for women, if he had advocated contraception, he wouldn't have lasted a day. But he 'only' failed to report child abuse to the authorities," Hurtado said.

Elected last March, Pope Francis has been applauded for his fresh approach to a range of issues. He has issued several pronouncements urging action against child abusers.

But campaigners remain sceptical.

"I haven't seen any actions at all that give positive signs," said Snap's UN representative Mary Caplan. "What we want to see is accountability."

  • Valentine Masina - 2014-01-14 22:21

    Its the beast of Revelation 17 remember. Yes it is time to show the deep seated things... Time for a real show down. I dont hate catholics but we know what lies under them as the bible says it. God help us and help them too.

      jerzy - 2014-01-15 00:02

      The Catholic “mother” and her Protestant Trinitarian “sisters” are peddlers of the biggest religious scams. All they have in common with Christianity is conducting their dirty businesses (including butchering of millions upon millions of their Trinitarian brothers) under the Christian umbrella.

      Sharon Hamilton - 2014-01-15 05:29

      Note how ALL the different religious groups have not been at the forefront of the enquiry into paedophilia amongst priests, atheists are more proactive. The various churches and religious zealots should be pursuing the priestly, (god chosen), paedophiles with a vengeance, but no, what do we have, a deafening silence from all religious groups, is that god's will too....????

  • Prosper Nyawuza - 2014-01-14 22:36

    It's for this reason and this reason ONLY that I am against religion and Christianity in particular... Religion is nothing more than a tool used to control the masses and people eat that crap up while their kids are in the next room getting fondled by some old, wrinkly, creepy guy... Gross!!!

      jerzy - 2014-01-14 23:23

      There are tens of thousands of Christian denominations propagating differing and often contradicting theologies. Alas, they care less for God’s word.

      Amanda Stone - 2014-01-15 01:02

      I agree with that. I am anti religion for many other reasons too, but as far as this goes; I feel strongly about it and hope that these priests face the full might of the law. If the Pope really hopes to change things in his church, he should consider allowing priests to marry. Perhaps it would help to stamp out this behavior. I do of course understand that pedophilia is a sickness, but perhaps it is not the case with many priests who are taking advantage of children (easy targets) to quell their rampant hunger for sex? Whatever the problem, these priests and those that cover up their crimes need to face prison for what they have done.

  • Motherfarker Jones - 2014-01-14 22:44

    Probe....poor word choice for the headline

      jerzy - 2014-01-14 23:02

      Bear in mind that people feed the beast. Aren’t they guilty for sending their children to its den instead of studying the Bible and history to find out that the pagan flavoured blasphemous Trinitarian theology was imposed upon Christianity by the worst barbaric means? Anyway, who wants to infuriate the beast?

  • Carla Smith - 2014-01-14 23:08

    Yeah good luck with this. The victims will never see justice because the fish always rots from the head down.

      jerzy - 2014-01-14 23:15

      I would like to ask two questions. Firstly, why people keep supporting this dragon and keep sending their children to its den to devour them? Secondly, how people know that the UN is not a part, subject or supporter of the dragon?

  • Judy Block-Jones - 2014-01-15 02:28

    After almost a year from becoming pope, Francis is showing the world that he chooses to protect child predators and those who cover up their sex crimes, instead of protecting innocent children. He has yet to take any decisive action to hold bishops accountable for enabling and covering up sex crimes against kids today. Church officials still think they are above the law. Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting innocent kids. Until they are held accountable by outside forces, nothing will change and children are still be sexually abused within this archaic secret institution. It is becoming more clear that Pope Francis can not be counted on to remove and fire these criminal bishops. Silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511, "SNAP" the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

  • Carlos Gabriel - 2014-01-15 07:29

    I hope the Vatican will be scrutinized by the UN. But the prospects are bleek as the Church always gets away throught technicalities and rethoric. This pope, as well all the previuous two,is determined to protect the perpetrators, especially if they are bishops or archbishops and cardinals. The vatican committee set up in November to deal with with that child abuse in the church, will be to protect the high ranking clerics. The proof (evidence for this) is the polish archbishop, former Nuntio in the Dominican Republic, being shielded in the Vatican. After all he is an archbishop... Father Lombardi doesn't believe the archbishop is in the Vatican... He is sidetepping the question and the problem and he is good at that...Otherwise he would have been already sacked... That square km (the Vatican) is the "refugio pecatorum" of the church. Previous popes have protected clerics there, for other reasons, but that is how they deal with the problems. This "reforming" pope hasn't reformed anything and I have doubts he will. Child abuse is the monster in the Vatican and the pope keeps tiptoeing around it... He has had no courage to confront and set different rules to solve that festering desease. It makes me, as a catholic priest, sad and despondent.

  • Richard Stockenström - 2014-01-15 07:46


  • Ian Lowe - 2014-01-15 11:26

    Well, two powerful Italian organizations selling protection. One now, one apparently later. Who can believe what ...

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