Israel Palestine Germany Mexico Japan Sri Lanka China Hong Kong Ireland Canada Scotland New Zealand United States Australia Italy Spain Netherlands The Philippines
Global Declaration of a Public Moral Danger to our Children and a Moral Menace to Society

Never Again just got real

"Actively resisting the atrocities & Human Rights abuses of the Christian religion"
"Helping to build a better world simply because we are evolving, developing and maturing humans."
"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

Opinion The Tangled Web Tightens for the Vatican
Bookmark and Share      Created: 2011-01-26 12:37:55   Last updated : 2011-01-26 21:41:27

By Marci A. Hamilton

Headlines around the world this week have reported that Irish broadcaster RTE obtained a 1997 letter from the Vatican that instructed Irish bishops not to report child sex abuse by priests to the police. According to the letter, "the situation of ‘mandatory reporting' gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature."

Survivors are calling this the "smoking gun" that proves the Vatican's complicity in the abuse cover-up. They are right, but that is not the whole story with this letter.

Absolutely no one should be surprised by this direct expression of what everyone should have known already: the Vatican has orchestrated a conspiracy of secrecy about child abuse for decades, if not centuries.

Once the practice of covering up the identities of priest child sex abusers was established beyond a doubt in Boston, then incrementally, the entire United States, and then Europe, and Mexico, and South America, could anyone actually believe the cover-ups were a colossal coincidence? When you have a top-down hierarchical institution with an ever-repeating pattern of abuse/cover-up/move around/abuse/cover-up/move around, the resulting secrecy is no accident.

Jeffrey Lena, who represents the Vatican in the United States clergy sex abuse cases, disputed the notion that the letter required bishops to disregard civil reporting requirements. In fact, there were no such requirements in Ireland at the time, so his defense is thin at best.

The public is being seriously misled on the Vatican's position on reporting then and now. The Vatican's official position is that it urged cooperation with authorities then and that it requires reporting now, so it's all good. Right?

Definitely not. The Vatican's policy, as Lena indicates, which was reconfirmed in the last year as part of the Vatican's "new" measures to protect victims, is to require reporting only if civil law requires it. No voluntary reporting to the police.

But their position is much darker than it appears on the surface. Not only has the Vatican only required reporting if the civil law mandates it, its lobbyists have lobbied hard to make sure that state laws do not require clergy to report. Similarly, their lawyers have argued ad infinitum in courts that they should not be required to report, raising silly First Amendment arguments and every technicality they can.

Let me say that again. The Catholic Conferences and the lawyers for the dioceses routinely argue that clergy should be exempt from reporting, generally and in specific cases.

They will tell you that the reason they lobby against reporting is to protect the sanctity of the confessional. But it is out of character for them to limit their arguments in the legislatures or the courts to a bona fide confessional. Everything is a "confession" for them, including discussions about child sex abuse between priests and their superiors way outside the confessional box. So the sum total of their "reporting policy" is to avoid reporting in as many instances as they possibly can. All the while, they are paying lip service to reporting. This letter is a smoking rocket launcher.

The rest of the letter deserves attention as well. If perhaps you are an incurable optimist who has been giving the benefit of the doubt to the Church, I think you would be interested in this paragraph farther down the letter:

Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many of the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these policies.

This is the most stunning part of the letter to me. First, they started working on "concrete directives" in 1997? I have nothing but questions about this. I wonder what directives they have considered over the last fourteen years—certainly not mandatory reporting to the authorities. Nor have they shut down their "treatment centers" to which they send their priest perpetrators, or been willing to release records of claims against priests without civil litigation.

Given the resources they waste on trying to halt legal reform for child sex abuse victims, I'm wondering if one of the concrete directives was to ensure that all victims of child sex abuse be treated just as their victims have been—manacled by the law and ignored by the culture. Nothing like a level playing field to make everyone feel better.

Second, clergy abuse has hardly been cabined to the English-speaking world. It has been rampant in South America and Mexico as well as Africa. And they have known it. Just look at the remarkable, tragic story of the many victims of Marcel Maciel, who was befriended by John Paul II and only recently rebuked by the Vatican.

Does this paragraph mean that they were only taking the English-speaking abuse seriously? That actually makes some sense, because the English-speaking countries have the best legal systems for victims to be able to sue. They are called "common law" legal systems. In contrast, in civil law countries, victims have a much harder time getting to court. The bishops do not take these issues terribly seriously unless they are threatened with imminent legal proceedings. They are particularly averse to having to be deposed themselves, which is why every diocesan bankruptcy has been declared just before a bishop was going to be required to be deposed or testify on abuse. The recent Milwaukee Diocese bankruptcy filing is no different.

Third, what does "at the appropriate time" mean? Were a publicly traded corporation accused of child trafficking, it would not be speaking in terms of "appropriate time" but rather "emergency," "speedy resolution," and it would be firing its leadership for letting it go down such a dark and ultimately unprofitable path. But the Vatican assumed a right to take whatever time it needed, proving once again this institution's callous and shallow response to heinous crimes within its confines. It was, once again, all about the Vatican, and not about the victims.

I don't know how many times one institution can re-victimize its victims, but here you have another example. Fourteen years is a long time to consider what to do in the face of entrenched evil. Of course, for the victims, the abuse itself is a life sentence.

This institution has become the epitome of the famous and memorable line by Walter Scott, in his poem "Marmion": "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." The point is that one lie leads to another and another until one is so entangled that escaping the original falsehood becomes virtually impossible. This letter is the latest proof that the leadership of the Catholic Church is inextricably tangled in a web of its own making, and the rest of us have to be the ones to ensure the safety of our children.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University and author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge, 2008) and God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge, 2005, 2007).

Hamilton's column, "God vs. Gavel," is published every Wednesday. Subscribe via email or RSS.

Add your comment below.

FEATURED: Exposing the GCAC and the crimes perpetrated against the Molested & Abused at the hands of religion

Catholic excuse list (Brief list only)
      Be a part of the worlds greatest excuse log. Add your excuse number here

Morality and performance of duty are artificial measures that become necessary when something essential is lacking
      But those who have spontaneous feelings can only be themselves. They have no other choice if they want to remain true to themse

Copyright - Disclaimer - Terms
      The content on this site is protected by various copyright laws and does contain both religious and government/political materi

Church used 'blackmail, secrecy'

Will trade for 2 Big Macs and a Pepsi
      For Sale 20 Pages of religious babble

Clergy Study USA
      Survivors of Clergy Abuse Australia

Clergy Study Australia
      Survivors of Clergy Abuse Australia

David Simpkin Salvation Army Prison Chaplain
      Survivors of Clergy Abuse Australia

300 tons
      Clergy man abuses and covers up for his and the crimes of others.

From Broken Rites Australia
      The systemic nature of clerical sexual abuse by catholic clergy in Australia is well illustrated by the current case reported

Open communication with us

A survivor reflects on parallels-between-Spotlight-film-and-Ballarat
      Andrew Collins- survivor Ballarat Victoria Australia

You were born belief free and immediately burdened
      You were born belief free and immediately burdened by life crippling beliefs in thousand upon thousand of unfounded claims.

Sexual Assault and the Catholic Church
      Are victims finding justice? authored by Judith Courtin Essential reading for academics Chapters 4, 5, 6

Marriage and Child Rearing
      Recovery v Healing - Marriage and Child Rearing JohnB

"How can anyone believe in a God whose servants abuse children and whose hierarchy protects the abuser?"

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

Pedophiles who molest boys are not expressing a homosexual orientation any more than pedophiles who molest girls are practicing heterosexual behaviors. While many child molesters have gender and/or age preferences, of those who seek out boys, the vast majority are not homosexual. They are pedophiles.

#Anglican #SalvationArmy #ChildAbuse #CatholicChurch #alwayscatholic #catholic #catholics #catholicedchat #catholicism #catholictravel faithfulcatholics #FantasyFree #RoyalCommission

Check these other related sites: Keep the evidence alive | Molested Catholic | xt3 Molested Catholic | September 1 2009 | TFYQA | My Broken Society