Pope Francis I has a clear priority: stop and prevent the sexual abuse of young boys

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Years of molestation by priests remains an appalling stain on the Vatican

As the world absorbs the news of the appointment of the new Pope, it is time to ask how the next Supreme Leader of the Catholic Church can meet its most urgent challenge, of stopping its priests sexually molesting small boys.

There have been, on a realistic estimate, over 100,000 such victims since 1981 when Joseph Ratzinger became head of the Vatican office which declined to defrock paedophiles and instead approved their removal to other parishes and other countries.

These widespread and systematic sexual assaults can collectively be described as a crime against humanity. The church cannot atone just by paying compensation. Unless the new Pope installs a policy that minimises danger to children, he, like Benedict, will become complicit in ongoing but avoidable abuse.

Zero tolerance

First, and most obviously, there must be zero tolerance for paedophile priests. They must be automatically defrocked as soon as their Bishop learns of their crime. There must be no delay, and certainly no appeal to the Vatican – it was there that Ratzinger’s preference for avoiding scandal permitted so many paedophiles to be forgiven, and then to re-offend. There is ample evidence now, from Ireland, America and Europe, that the Vatican has conspired to thwart prosecutors and protect clerical criminals.

The Pope is the source of Canon law, which directs that allegations of child molestation be investigated in utter secrecy, by a “trial” loaded in favour of clerics who if found guilty are “punished” for the most part by orders for prayer and penitence. This must be changed, by recognition that child molestation is a serious offence which cannot be dealt with in a secret ecclesiastical procedure.

Allegations must be reported to the police. The Vatican pretends that it made this change in 2011, when new “guidelines” were issued reminding Bishops to co-operate with law enforcement authorities, but only when local law requires it (and many countries still do not have laws compelling the reporting of child abuse).

These “guidelines” are not incorporated into Canon law: Bishops are not told to hand evidence over to the police, and priests are not required to inform on brothers whom they know (often through confession) to be molesting children. There is no duty to suspend a suspected priest.

Even in countries where local Bishops have bowed to political pressure and announced that public prosecutors will be told of sex abuse allegations, there is always a qualification: “Only if the victim consents”. It is all too easy for young victims and trusting parents to be counseled that the victim’s best interests lie in allowing the church to deal with the matter “in its own way” without involving the police.

So criminal priests escape prosecution because officials, in order to protect the reputation of their church, pressure and persuade families to have complaints dealt with in secret under Canon law processes.

His book – The Case of the Pope can be ordered through the RDFRS online store

Written By: Geoffrey Robertson
continue to source article at independent.co.uk

35 COMMENTS

  1. The practice of child indocrination by the RCC puts it in exactly the same category as Islam.

    A short while ago in the UK a child was beaten to death by his mother for not being able to learn The Qur’an by heart.

    “Religion poisons everything.” Christopher Hitchens.

  2. The title of this article is confusing/misleading. When I first read it, I assumed it meant that Pope Francis had declared that his #1 priority is to “stop and prevent the sexual abuse of young boys” (even though I’m fully aware that a Pope would never make such a claim, as it would require him to admit the extent of the Church’s culpability, etc.)

    • In reply to #4 by mirandaceleste:

      The title of this article is confusing/misleading. When I first read it, I assumed it meant that Pope Francis had declared that his #1 priority is to “stop and prevent the sexual abuse of young boys” (even though I’m fully aware that a Pope would never make such a claim, as it would require him to admit the extent of the Church’s culpability, etc.)

      Yes, all the papal posturing about poverty is just distracting from the paedophile problem.

  3. “The reform most often suggested is to abandon celibacy. This would not be doctrinally difficult – Christ’s disciples appear to have been married, and the rule was a dogma introduced in the 11th century and almost abolished by 16th century reformers.”

    Seriously pondering, I don´t think celibacy as the real psychological motive for abusers.
    From many cases I know, abusers are actually married men (with double life), with their own children, some even capable of abusing their own children and grandsons (as far as I don´t remember any case of abuse perpetrated by women).

    Instead of claiming that politics is not women´s natural talent, perhaps it would better to change the politics of the Vatican for the sake of children (not for the sake of male clergy, of course).

    kudos to one of the best professors I ever had (and intelligent) a woman teaching politics.

  4. The Catholics have figured out whenever they are suffering bad press they just have to have a papal succession. The media changes from bloodhounds to sheep in its fawning coverage of the Vatican. I got ill just about every time it was mentioned. These pedophiles in their clown suits should be ashamed to appear in public, and the media should be ashamed of facilitating this orchestrated event.

  5. In reply to #3 by Ornicar:

    Slightly nitpicking but still… the name is Pope Francis. It will become Francis 1 if there is ever a Francis 2.

    Never mind, the guy is a guru like any other priest.

    Yes, which is why I read it as “Pope Francis, I has a clear priority…” I was correcting it to “I HAVE a clear priority. lol!

  6. @OP – These widespread and systematic sexual assaults can collectively be described as a crime against humanity. The church cannot atone just by paying compensation. Unless the new Pope installs a policy that minimises danger to children, he, like Benedict, will become complicit in ongoing but avoidable abuse.

    They could simply redefine paedophilia as non-criminal as explained on this link!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21810692

    • In reply to #11 by Alan4discussion:

      @OP – These widespread and systematic sexual assaults can collectively be described as a crime against humanity. The church cannot atone just by paying compensation. Unless the new Pope installs a policy that minimises danger to children, he, like Benedict, will become complicit in ongoing but avoidable abuse.

      They could simply redefine paedophilia as non-criminal as explained on this link!

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21810692

      Great link !

      • In reply to #17 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #11 by Alan4discussion:

        They could simply redefine paedophilia as non-criminal as explained on this link!

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-21810692

        Further to my earlier comment; Apparently according to the link if paedophile priests themselves were abused by priests as children it is “a psychological problem ” not a criminal offense – so nobody is responsible!

        Should they “convert” to buddhism to seek the end of a violence cicle ?

  7. I know this ought not to be a topic of humor but for a second, I completed the sentence as “stop and prevent the sexual pleasures of life” just before clicking the link.

    Now, lets see how long before he declares a god given right to the Falkland islands…

  8. Gee, given the number of victims and perpetrators of perverted, criminal sexual offenses and the leniency with which they’ve been treated, it makes one wonder about violations of celibacy between consenting adults. And let’s not forget that even if the church is not an equal opportunity employer, there is a whole other gender in the organization and they are only human too. It does seem that men are more involved in pedophilia though.

  9. One correction in order: ‘…sexually molesting small boys’ should read: ‘….sexually molesting children.’ Boys are not the only victims of priests’ and nuns’ aggression.
    I highly recommend Geoffrey’s ‘Case of the Pope’. Importantly, he calls out the need to question the legitimacy of the Vatican as a ‘sovereign nation’ with UN observer status. Much skullduggery hides behind this diplomatic immunity.

  10. I will never understand how the catholic church has managed to continuously, through out history, to allow and/or encourage many unethical practices. Why isn’t the majority of the world frustrated enough to collaborate on how to make them act with some modern morals? How many people have suffered injustices in direct relation to this organization? Why do they get a “get out of jail free” card? Very sad.

  11. He could probably eliminate a lot of the sexual abuse by approving the long known cure for sexual frustration: masturbation. Of course, as long as they instill the dishonest view that someone is always looking down on them, they’ll continue to have to hold that frustration internal, like they have throughout history, until the pressure is unbearable, often coinciding with opportunity. Total honesty is nowhere near close at hand… pun not seen until after typing :-)

    • In reply to #24 by AfraidToDie:

      He could probably eliminate a lot of the sexual abuse by approving the long known cure for sexual frustration: masturbation. … they’ll continue to have to hold that frustration internal, like they have throughout history, until the pressure is unbearable, often coinciding with opportunity.

      Come on. You can’t be serious! Priests sexually molest children because they are not supposed to masturbate?! Guess what, they’re not supposed to molest children either! You can’t really believe that priests turn to child abuse to relieve sexual frustration?! Think about what you are saying.

      The argument for eliminating celibacy is to attract non pedophiles to the priesthood, although as pointed out above, that might not work either.

  12. Zero tolerance. My, how freakin’ … bare minimum.

    Anything short of prosecuting the Nazi Pope is failure to comply with decency and reason. Unless Ratzinger is prosecuted, it’s all a sham. What he did was monstrous, inexcusable, and criminal. He is more culpable than the rapist, because even the most prolific rapist did not affect over 100,000 children. Dirty Ratzinger harmed over 100,000 children. He needs to go to prison.

  13. Geoffrey Robertson’s book is a great work not only its analysis of the tortuous canon law that permitted the protection of paedophiles, but also for its revelation of the degrees of “delict” (or crime/sin) recognized by the church. It’s a few years since I read it, but if I recall correctly masturbation and child abuse were classified both as the same level of delict, showing a total organisational disconnect from the victim (I mean the child of course, not the tempted priest).

    Everyone should read the book, especially the journalists who are currently fawning over the Francis.

  14. The need for child molesters to be reported to the police promptly is fine. But, church history is full of examples to the fact that nothing will get church officials to act more promptly then when their reputation and thier authority is publically chalanged……I mean, vocally and in print, and in public. The poor and the young are defenceless and the bishops know it. It is up to beleivers (regular church goers) to stand up, during a church service even, and to demand change. Speak out as a group if you can’t do so on your own.

  15. In western societies where we no long see the church as a doorway to getting an otherwise unattainable education, and in the face of the overwhelming evidence for the case of atheism, I would question the motivation of those who choose a religious career path.

    If I found an intruder in my house in the middle of the night and knew him to be a millionaire, I probably wouldn’t think that it’s ok his just here to rob me.

  16. An even better priority would be to disband the whole organisation and for everyone to accept that Catholicism was a prime example of how you can get people to believe or do anything if you brainwash them with threats of horrific violence.

    • In reply to #33 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      An even better priority would be to disband the whole organisation and for everyone to accept that Catholicism was a prime example of how you can get people to believe or do anything if you brainwash them with threats of horrific violence.

      Yes, wouldn’t it be grand to see the RCC go the way of the Berlin Wall and the USSR. Pope Francis doing a Gorbachev, resigning as Pope and declaring the office itself to be extinct.

      Now that would be a day to celebrate.

  17. The reform most often suggested is to abandon celibacy. This would not be doctrinally difficult – Christ’s disciples appear to have been married, and the rule was a dogma introduced in the 11th century and almost abolished by 16th century reformers.”

    I was quoting the article.
    While protestant reform abolished it latter, the RCC actually introduced it, accordingly to what ´ve heard in a sociology class is that: celibacy was introduced, along with clergy´s way of dressing, even haircut, as an intended way of differentiating the clergy from the lay population.
    A more platonic world indeed, if you ever had seen Platos´s ideas at use: everyone were socially differentiated by the way they dressed, what was common throughout in middle ages, the “lay” peasants could never use silk because it was reserved for higher social status, a completly different world of Rosseau´s equality and freedom of all citizens ?

  18. So, we can dismiss that the RCC church would condemn the clergy as “lay people”, rather than accordingly to their own specific rules, isn´t that what this clergy man said ?( they would never condemn their own as if they were simply “lay people”/criminals.)

    Double standard: we cannot ask for prossecution of the pope as the head of an institution, because the pope is not boss of clergy criminals? (I think good sociologists would be needed to understand this double standards of the RCC, as far as why they would never adopt a protestant reform, that´s naive).

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