Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tomasi UN statement not helpful

I can't find the actual text of Vatican UN Observer Archbishop Silvano Tomasi on the internet, but if reports (see here and here) are to be believed, the statement is not one that could be considered "helpful" in the current climate. Of course, when backed into a corner (as appears to have happened by the specific and targeted attack from "international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union" Keith Porteous Wood), it is perfectly understandable that the Vatican Observer should react defensively. Yet, surely he must know that pointing the finger at the crimes of others was not ever going to be an effective way in which to answer such an attack.

All that being said, the situation in which the Vatican finds itself is somewhat unique. What other body, whose operatives (we cannot say "employees", since priests are not employees of the Vatican but of their local diocese) have been guilty of these crimes, has an international head office that could be held to account in the way some are trying to hold the Vatican to account? It is true, as the Archbishop points out, that the incident of child abuse is no higher among Catholic priests than among protestant, jewish, or in fact no-religion-at-all organisations, but the hierarchical set up of the Catholic Church does mean that the Vatican is an "easy target".

Personally, I find the statistical comparison "no more than anyone else" more than a little distasteful. The Catholic Church should be one place where all people are ENTIRELY safe from such predatory abuse, and I am ashamed that it is not so. It makes the task of evangelisation and of the promotion of the Catholic Faith a hell of a lot harder than it should be.


At Thursday, October 01, 2009 12:53:00 am , Anonymous Paul said...

clarification to my previous post....

As most people know, it wasn't Bishop Hollingworth who had anything to do with an underaged girl, but it was a case involving another Anglican minister. I thought I should make that clear in case there is any misunderstanding.

At Thursday, October 01, 2009 7:28:00 am , Anonymous PM said...

You're right - any abuse is too much. But Tomasi does have a point - a psychologist I know who has read the research says the incidence in the Church is indeed less than in the general community. The trouble is that it's only news when the Church is involved (cf. 'our' ABC and the Fairfax press). And the hypocrisy from the PC luvvies in theYartz is nauseating.

At Thursday, October 01, 2009 10:11:00 am , Anonymous Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

I consider that what the Archbishop has said needed to be said. The impression given in the media is that child sexual abuse is a sin and crime peculiar to Catholic celibate clergy and religious, and that the percentage of abuse among them is very high. Neither is true. The Archbishop is simply indicating that it is a problem in all churches, world religions (odd that he did not mention Islam and Buddhism because it occurs there as well) as well as in all professions and organisations - police force, legal and teaching professions, journalists, sporting coaches, scout masters etc. I will be dislike for saying this, but again I think it is something that needs to be said. Statistics of child sexual abuse in Australia indicate that the highest percentage of such abuse in the Catholic Church occurs not in sacristies and presbyteries but in Catholic homes, perpetrated by Catholic fathers (mainly) or older siblings or other family members or friends. It is much more a mariage and family problem than it is a celibate one. Now to state this is not to act defensively when pushed into a corner but simply to tell the whole story. I thank the Archbishop making a contribution toward doing so. It has always been my hope that after revelations of abuse by clergy and religious (a shame that we all bear), the much more frequent problem of abuse in families would be addressed. But no, no one has the guts to raise the problem let alone address it. And this is where the greatest cover up has occurred and is still occurring sadly night after night after night. Does no one care?

At Friday, October 02, 2009 8:56:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

Actually, the issue is very neatly shown here:

The reality has never been that our elites much care about victims of sexual abuse: they care about having a useful tool to bash the Church, which some pervert priests and (far more) some spectacularly bad bishops have handed them. But the fact remains that, when the Right Sort of Roman rapes a kid, the people who were cursing and swearing about sexual abuse will turn themselves into pretzels to justify it.

...our chattering classes have been quietly laboring to mainstream pedophilia for quite some time now. Mark my words: the Church will one day be condemned for forbidding what some of her neglectful and corrupt ministers are presently condemned for having allowed.

At Friday, October 02, 2009 8:13:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

I don't know about children not understanding that the priest is the icon of Christ. From my experience they often have a better understanding than adults. Little children sometimes call the priest "Jesus". I got called that a few times even when I was a protestant pastor. So abuse from a priest will, I think, directly impact on the faith of the little one.

At Sunday, October 04, 2009 12:46:00 pm , Anonymous Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

Dear Anne, thank you for your thoughtful replies. Much appreciated. Be assured of my poor prayer.


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