I think I can honestly say I’ve never been rendered speechless with anger before. However thanks to a one pagerecently released by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, I am delighted to report that I am fully capable of being struck dumb by pure, unadulterated fury.
Archbishop Tomasi is the Holy See’s (the Pope’s) permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva. He was responding to a submission made to the Human Rights Council by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) who raised some grave concerns they had in relation to the Holy See’s apparent disregard for the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In particular the IHEU felt the Holy See, and by extension the Catholic Church as a whole, had contravened the CRC in numerous ways when it came to its reaction to the child abuse scandal which has been an unfortunate part of the church for years.
Due to the fact the whole document is a spectacular display of ignorance I shall begin at the beginning.
“In the upcoming report of the Holy See to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is finalized as we speak, a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by catholic clergy”.
A paragraph? In a document about the rights of the child, produced by the Catholic church which has spent the last two decades facing scandal after scandal on child abuse within its ranks, scandal which in the States alone has resulted in almost 3 billion dollars worth of compensation to be paid out, they are producing a paragraph? Concise.
“While many speak of child abuse, i.e. pedophilia, it would be more correct to speak of ephebophillia, being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males. Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to the sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the age of 11 and 17 years old”.
Ah, so it’s down to those damned homosexuals you’ve spent all these years trying to warn us about?! Well that explains everything. And thank you for reassuring us that most of the boys who have been abused are between the age of 11 and 17; because it would be worrying if they were younger…
“From available research we know that in the last fifty years somewhere between 1.5% and 5% of the catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases. The Christian Science Monitor reported on the results of a national survey by Christian Ministry Resources in 2002 and concluded: “Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant..  Sexual abuses within the Jewish communities approximate that found among the Protestant clergy.
Now I’ve struggled to find accurate numbers on exactly how many Catholic priests there are in the world. However this site suggests (and if anyone has better data please do get in touch) that there are approximately 400,000 priest world wide. So, while his wording is a tad ambiguous, the Archbishop seems to be happily admitting that there are approximately 6,000 to 20,000 pedophiles (sorry, ephebophiles) in the church. 6,000 is an absolutely terrifying number; to think it might be more than that simply boggles the mind.
And then the Archbishop has the gall to suggest that other religions are worse?! Who gives a shit what’s going on in the other churches, one child molester is one too many, and you have admitted you may have 20,000 on your hands.
He then goes on to drag up some facts relating to other aspects of abuse which seem to be a desperate bid to dilute the issue.
“About 85% of the offenders of child sexual abuse are family members, babysitters, neighbors, family friends or relatives. About one in six child molesters are other children, while most of the offenders are male.
According to a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 10% of U.S. public school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees. The author of the study concluded that the scope of the school-sex problem appears to far exceed the clergy abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and concluded in an interview with Education Week “the physical abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests”..”
Again, just because it is happening somewhere else, no matter how much worse it is, it does not make it ok.
“The Church is very conscious of the seriousness of the problem. The Code of Canon Law stipulates that priests involved in sexual abuse cases must be “punished with just punishments, not excluding expulsion from clerical state”. The American Bishops Conference issued in 2002 “essential norms for diocesan/eparchial policies dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests or deacons”. The guidelines mention among others that “in case of sufficient evidence the bishop will withdraw the accused from exercising the ministry, impose or prohibit residence in a given place or territory … pending the outcome of the process.” Other national bishops’ conferences have taken similar measures.”
All very good in theory, despite the fact it fails to explicitly mention any kind of legal consequences. More importantly it neatly ignores the fact that the church has consistently closed ranks to protect its own when it comes to scandal from within.
“As the Catholic Church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”
And so we finish with a bitchy comment aimed at other religions and institutions. Nice. “Why do people keep focusing on us, when those guys over there have been doing it as well?!” How the Archbishop feels he is in a position to tell off other people for their behaviour in this matter is truly mind blowing, though does give some insight into the Catholic Church’s views on this whole matter: They are above it all. They have God on their side and hence can do no wrong. They have proven that they can murder, and people will still love them for it. They have proven they can preach hate, and people will still love them for it. They have even proven they can rape little children, and people will still love them.
Any business operating under such a history would be bust in a week. So why has the church survived? They are a business like any other- they’ve managed to turn worship into a huge money-making venture. My severely limited understanding of Jesus’ teachings does not lead me to believe you have to worship him through the hierarchy of the church. Yet people return, scandal after scandal, horror after horror, to file into their church every Sunday like the obedient Catholics they are. And with every attendance, they are expressing their support for the pedophiles and those that protect them.
The Pope and the Archbishop are beyond my contempt; they are so deeply involved they probably can no longer see that what they are doing is so fundamentally wrong it beggars belief. But for those who continue to support the church, well to you I say shame, for it is you who can make the difference. For without its customers, the church is nothing. And if you are worried that your god will punish you for not worshipping him via abusers and pedophiles, well then I think you have bigger problems than the fate of your eternal soul.
1 Mark Clayton, “Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches”, Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 2002, p.1.
2 Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer, “Rabbi Sexual Misconduct: Crying Out for a Communal Response”, , November 24, 2003.
3 Dr. Grath A. Rattray, “Child Month and Paedophilia”, The Gleaner, May 14, 2002
4 Caroline Hendrie, “Sexual Abuse by Educators Scrutinized”, in: Education Week, March 10, 2004
5 CIC C. 1395 § 2.