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Global Declaration of a Public Moral Danger to our Children and a Moral Menace to Society

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"How can anyone believe in a God whose servants abuse children and whose hierarchy protects the abuser?"
More by JohnB - Living the final years of the Catholic Cover up

Bookmark and Share      Created: 2010-04-13 04:22:26   Last updated : 2010-04-13 12:22:56

In a recent press release from the Holy See, 'concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions,' Director Fr. Frederico Lombardi repeats some of the more cliched responses and predictable excuses to the church's ever widening problems of sexual abuse, particularly the sexual abuse of minor children.

Text of Statement by Fr. Frederico Lombardi Regarding Clerical Sexual Abuse of Minors

Contrary to what Lombardi says in the press release from the Vatican, the institutional Roman Catholic Church has reacted to the continuing sexual abuse debacle neither rapidly nor decisively and the Vatican continues to distance itself from what has happened in country after country, first categorizing it as an 'American problem,' then as a 'homosexual problem' in the United States in 2002.

The church's response continues to be reactive rather than proactive while minimizing the systemic and endemic abuse of power and authority which enabled and exacerbated it on the one hand while covering it up whenever and wherever possible on the other.

The 'wide-ranging context' that Lombardi speaks of is that in countries from the United States, Canada, Australia and Ireland to Austria, the Netherlands and Germany, church authorities have repeatedly and consistently disregarded the institution's own moral and Canon laws as well as the existing laws of the countries' in which these horrific crimes against humanity took place.

The church has lost its way.

If church authorities had done the morally right thing initially, one wonders how many children would have escaped being sexually abused by a particular priest?

As Patrick Wall, a former priest himself, states:

'The Roman Catholic Church has the largest body of knowledge of non-incarcerated sexual offenders in the world.'

Who, one has to ask, would have more knowledge of the internal machinations utilized to cover-up and protect sexual predators from public scrutiny than Pope Benedict in his former position as Head of the Holy Office?

While attacks on any individual is regrettable and counter productive, the fact is that Pope Benedict XVI is at the helm of the Barque of Peter. His challenge is to see that current church policy agrees with his statements in something as significant as the recent pastoral letter to Ireland.

What was done by church leadership in the United States, for example, were actions they were forced to take by the pressure of public opinion after records, files and correspondence were forced into the public venue in 2002 by Judge Constance M. Sweeney, a very brave, grounded and principled Catholic woman of Boston, Massachusetts. As the facts show, the bishops of the United States at that time were forced to make the decisions they made even while powerful bishops resisted calls to accountability and transparency every step of the way.

Moreover, while Benedict has accepted two of the proffered resignations from the Irish bishops it is well to recall that not one bishop in the United States was removed from office because of his own complicity and collusion in covering up sexual abuse. Nor has anyone been forced to resign for violating then existing canon law, criminal law or civil law.

Bishops in the United States like Bernard Cardinal Law and his auxiliaries in Boston, who were shown to have been complicit in protecting known sexual predators, should have been removed from office, their resignations tendered instead of being rewarded with a plum position in Rome in the case of Law, or their own dioceses as has been the cases with complicit Boston auxiliary bishops.

Sadly there are also examples of state authorities making deals with bishops that avoided any kind of prosecution, even though some had to admit guilt to get the deal. In a shameless act of pure hubris, the bishops specifically chose not to hold themselves to the same standards of accountability they drew up for ordinary priests.

When are people of good will going to say, enough!

When are state legislators going to change the laws so that justice can be pursued for the thousands upon thousands of victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been unable to access let alone obtain justice?

In most states and probably in most countries, existing criminal as well as civil laws give more protection to sexual predators and their enablers then they do to victims of childhood sexual abuse by anyone. The problems with statutes of limitation which have expired are probably much the same in Germany and other European countries as they have been is in so many jurisdictions in the United States.

This is deplorable and should not be the case.

The removal of all statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children is the single, most effective way to hold predators and enabling institutions accountable before the law. More than that, window legislation allows a set time frame for previously time barred cases of sexual abuse by anyone.

It is possible to change the laws in order to give some semblance of justice to those ravaged at so tender an age. What is needed to effect that change is the will to hold all sexual predators of children accountable along with any enabling individuals or institutions.

The state of Delaware is one of a very few number of states in the United States which has removed all criminal and civil statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children by anyone. It also legislated a two year civil window for previously time barred cases, again, by anyone. That window closed in July of 2009. Delaware also has a civil registry for those judged responsible under civil statutes.

In a civil suit, unlike a criminal suit, the burden of proof that any sexual abuse took place is on the plaintiff. The burden is not on the accused individual or institution to prove innocence, at least not in the United States.

Every victim of childhood sexual abuse should have a right to the pursuit of justice at the very least!

What people seem to forget is that childrens rights are human rights, that childrens rights are civil rights and that the hierarchy, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, has violated those childrens rights in the most profane of ways, not only by covering up for sexual abusers, mostly priests, but also by enabling the further abuse of untold numbers of children by these particular individuals who were known to be dangerous predators.

If Delaware can do it other states and other countries should be able to do it as well, and hold sexual predators and any enabling institutions responsible, especially when those institutions choose to ignore their own internal laws.

I was privileged to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of the 2007 Child Victims Law in Delaware.

No rules and no laws of any religious organization or denomination should be allowed to trump the laws of a civilized society where the protection of children is concerned.

Not only should the institutional Roman Catholic Church be held to the highest standard as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it should be leading by example and showing what can and should be done to protect children from sexual exploitation, from what really is another example of trafficking in individuals for purposes of sexual exploitation, nothing less.

By any objective standard the church has grossly violated the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child for decades.

Is it time to formalize those violations as the crimes against humanity they truly are?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware

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Myth #2 - Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by homosexual males.

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