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.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Tomasi UN statement not helpful

  1. Paul

    I certainly agree that these cases are a disaster for evangelisation since it destroys the Church’s claim to moral leadership in many people’s minds. Everyone, and every priest should read the lines about millstones and being thrown into the sea, and take that message very, very seriously.

    Having said that, I’m amazed about the double standards in the media with the case of Roman Polanski and the 13 year old girl he drugged and molested when he was in his 40’s. The media are running lines like “it was 31 years ago”, “the girl has forgiven him”, and of course, the real killer, “he won an Academy award”.

    Imagine any defence like this being run by a Catholic priest!! The arts mafia are loyal to their own and don’t mind a bit of hypocrisy.

    Bishop Hollingworth was run out of town because he made an aside that maybe the girl was willing. Now the Polanski followers are happy to imply that the 13 year old girl involved with him was willing (despite being drugged).

    Good grief

  2. Paul

    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.

  3. PM

    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.

  4. Fr Ronan Kilgannon

    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?

    • Hello Fr Kilgannon,
      I agree with you entirely and by this I dont mean that church abuse should be silent but I have been for years saying, writing and speaking out about sexual abuse of children within the home environment and that it is more rampant. In my work I encounter it daily and the after effects are clearly visible years and years after the last episode has ceased.
      Sexual abuse of children intrafamilial goes un spoken I believe for several reasons, (1) there is no money for compensation from within the family. (2) because the family is meant to be sacred and this shows that it is not. that it is human with many many faults.
      I also believe that as a society we have set up the groundwork for more and more of this type of abuse, by the overt sexualisation of all manner of life activities and the wanton sexualisation of children.
      Families now grow with background noise of TV, movies, showing all manner of activities almost without reservation. Children are not protected against verbal, visual imagery and sounds leading to sexual abuse and violence and so we shouldnt be surprised.
      I believe that sexual abuse of children is so endemic that soon the horror of its depth will be shown.
      The church is an easy target because there is money there. Yes there are sinful priests, bishops, cardinals, but there are massive amount of sinful fathers, grandfathers, uncles, aunties, siblings, babysitters. but there is no money here, only broken lives.
      Intruding on the innocence of children during their early years and when not cognitively aware of what is happening is a recipe for much pain for that child, her (his) future, that family and posterior generations who will be called to attend to this sin and violence of innocence.
      Personally Father Kilgannon, I believe satan has found a perfect way to try and stop the voice of the church on matters of morals because by the sexual abuse by priests/religious the church can be silenced by being reminded that her own “house” is muddied. However, by church I dont mean just the Catholic Church, but all the denominations and other faiths also. Mind you I don believe that the Catholic Church has been made scapegoat for all the others.
      Anne

      • correction……last sentence..
        “Mind you I do believe that the Catholic Church has been made scapegoat for all others”.

  5. Because the priest is an icon of Jesus Christ, such crimes committed by priests are especially appalling.

    Also, because all Christians share in the apostolate, crimes committed by us really are worse than when someone else commits them.

    That said, the papers etc need to be called out for their one-sided reporting, which also hinders the proclamation of the Gospel.

    We’re all about the Salvation of Souls here.

    • Louise, you are right a priest is an icon of Jesus, but a family “father” is an icon of the heavenly Father. To a child Jesus is a nice man but his/her father is better. To a child abuse by her father leads to a lifelong loss of trust and especially loss of trust in God who never helped during the abuse. The God she/he called upon to stop what was happening and the God didnt stop the father/brother/Grandfather from doing what was being done.
      During the formative years a child does not understand that priest is an icon of God. Thats rot
      a child only knows about God by rote learning and what is being told him/her. It is as abstract thinking begins and develops over lifetime that the deeper meaning become apparent.
      To a child being abused whether priest, bishop, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, auntie, all that is confusing and soul destroying is that the beloeved person is doing something “yuk” and “awful” and “terrible” and “painful” and she/he cant understand why. And there is a loss of trust so much so that the child often has a desire to run because no one (including Jesus her friend) will stop what is happening.
      Anne

      • 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.

        • David abuse by a father is believe is as destructive because to a child a father is “God”. That a child associated “priest” and “Jesus” is not surprising because someone told that child that a priest stands in the place of Jesus. But if you asked that child what it meant that child wouldnt know because the hard wiring isnt there for abstract thought.
          My 5 year old son used to say the full Mass and we had to be his congregation and respond correctly otherwise he would cry Do you think he really understood? He was repeating what he saw.
          I contend that abuse by a father/grandfather will impact more because when abuse at home the child has no where to go. There are emotional attachments that would be unravelled if she/he brought the abuse to attention of others. There are threats of loss of family if she tells. There are threats that “daddy” will go to jail and no one to look after mummy and family. Loss of faith in God comes from her calling to God to help end the abuse and the help never comes.
          That is the biggest abandonment she feels that she called when she needed him most and he didnt help.
          It is a different scenario (equally destructive but different) when a religious is involved.
          Anne

  6. Actually, the issue is very neatly shown here:

    http://markshea.blogspot.com/2009/09/nice-to-see-that-not-all-our-chattering.html

    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.

  7. Paul

    Unfortunately, another case has occurred in Canada:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/09/30/ns-bishop-charged.html

    A bishop from Nova Scotia, who had just completed a $15 million settlement for people abused by priests in the diocese has just been arrested himself for possession of child porn.

    Good grief!!!

    One of the saddest things to hear is the cry from the heart of 2 other priests in the diocese, Bishop Mancini and Fr Abbass which is quoted at the end of this article.

    I suppose the man hasn’t been found guilty yet, but as soon as police checked his laptop when he was reentering Canada, he sent a resignation letter to Pope Benedict.

  8. Fr Ronan Kilgannon

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