Irish politicians seem surprised that the Vatican response to the investigation into the Irish child abuse scandal is to avoid any involvement as much as possible:
Irish politicians have denounced the refusal of the Pope’s diplomat in Ireland to testify to a parliamentary panel probing the level of Catholic Church co-operation with investigations into the church’s cover-up of child abuse.
News of the refusal came as the Vatican described the child sex abuse scandal in Ireland as ”humiliating” for the church and 24 Irish bishops began unprecedented talks with the Pope.
An Irish MP, Alan Shatter, said it was ”not only deeply regrettable but incomprehensible” that Cardinal Leanza would not explain the Vatican’s lack of co-operation with Irish investigations, given ”it is acknowledged in Rome that members of the clergy in Ireland are guilty of abominable sexual abuse of children”.
Incomprehensible? Hardly. Once we realize that it is ‘official’ Vatican policy with specific directives to its employees that:
Nothing can be allowed to besmirch this authority: not the sexual abuse of children and adolescents, committed by thousands of Catholic priests worldwide; not the secret relationships between pastor and their housekeepers; not the covering-up of priests’ children; and not the love affairs between gay clerics. They are all cases of a double standard that arose because it is difficult for people — even priests — to subordinate their human desires to a papal encyclical. This code of silence has been upheld for decades, in some cases informally and in some cases by virtue of Vatican directives like the 1962 guideline.
See my previous post here.
It is far easier to comprehend the Church’s position if one assumes that the Vatican does not care about children and has no inclination to be held accountable for their policies and directives and actions that have allowed priestly child abusers to avoid prosecution and scandals to re-occur. Under this assumption, the Vatican’s position makes perfect sense and its non-actions and avoidance of responsibility very consistent . For a very brief tip-of-the-iceberg recap:
Austria: In March 1995, a former student accused the then chairman of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, of abuse. The cardinal resigned from his position, but refused to comment on the allegations. Rome avoided taking tough measures against the cardinal. The Vatican accepted his offer of resignation, which he had submitted before the scandal emerged. But the cardinal remained in office through the autumn. Groer first gave a half-hearted apology after four bishops, in a joint statement, said they believed the allegations to be true.
Canada: At the end of the 1980s, hundreds of cases of sexual abuse came to light in a Christian Brothers orphanage in Newfoundland, Canada. An investigative commission examined the case and eventually launched prosecutions and forced compensation payments totalling the millions. In 1999, Catholic priest James Jickey of the St. John’s Diocese was prosecuted and sentenced to prison for molesting boys. But the Church fought demands that compensation be paid to the victims for a decade. In 2009, a ruling was finally issued. The judges said the Church was indirectly responsible for the crimes.
United States: In Boston in 2002, a priest was brought to trial in a case involving the sexual abuse of 130 children. The trial led to the disclosure of a number of other cases. Allegations were lodged against thousands of priests. The cover-up, which lasted for years, was symptomatic of the way the American bishops dealt with pedophile priests. At the end of April 2002, the pope ordered American cardinals to Rome and decreed rules for dealing with sexual crimes. The Catholic Church has paid over $2 billion in damages to the victims.
Australia: During his trip to Australia in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the numberous cases of abuse in the country’s dioceses and expressed his compassion for the victims. Over the years, new cases continued to come to light, and numerous priests were also convicted.
Philippines: In 2002, the Catholic Church apologized for the crimes of hundreds of priests, who were found guilty of sexual abuse. One year later, news of additional cases surfaced, leading to the suspension of 34 priests.
Ireland: A government-ordered expert commission found that the Catholic Church had covered up allegations of sexual abuse for decades. In hundreds of cases, former archbishops in Dublin protected priests instead of turning the cases over to the police. After the report’s publication, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin apologized to the victims. “I offer to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them.” A previous report had already shaken the country in May 2009. It found that sexual abuse, rape, chronic beatings and humiliation had been persistent from the 1930s until the 1990s in Catholic industrial schools and orphanages.
So the Catholic Church says one thing but does another. It says what it needs to say to reassure the faithful that abuse is unfortunate and rare when the facts tell us that it is so wide-spread that the Vatican has written position papers on how best to respond to this common occurrence. But one thing we can count on with the Vatican is that it will do whatever it needs to do avoid responsibility for its stated policies and implemented practices under its directives while doing everything in its power to shift blame to any other parties it can – from the victims themselves to secularists, humanists, and especially atheists. Another thing we can count on is that most of the faithful will yet again swallow the Vatican’s justifications wholesale so that the end result is:
Business as usual.