Here's an interesting update on the state of the child abuse scandal that has engulfed the Roman Catholic Church in recent years. Representatives of The Holy See on Thursday will appear before a U.N. committee in Geneva on its implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to answer questions about the Vatican's involvement in the scandal.
The linked story at the Washington Post gives the details, so I won't go into the nuts and bolts of the issue here. If you are interested, follow the link and read the WP's story.
What I want to talk about is this:
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Wednesday that the Holy See ratified the treaty because of its longstanding commitment to caring for children, in the fields of education, health care, refugee services and other outreach to families in need. He said that while abuses had occurred at the hands of churchmen, it was important to distinguish between where the Holy See bore responsibility and where local authorities must intervene.
“The Holy See is not an organization in which all the priests or Catholics of the world are employees. It’s a big religious community,” he told The Associated Press. “Every member of this community has responsibilities as citizens of the country where he or she lives and with the authorities of that country.”Emphasis mine.
And yet, to date, the Holy See has refused to encourage its bishops to report abusers to local authorities, hiding behind the lack of laws in many localities requiring such reporting. In fact, in past cases in the US, even in States where the reporting of suspected abuse is required, such reporting has failed to take place, and the Church has often moved the abusers to new locations where they often have engaged in new cases of abuse.
This stance is outrageous! It is widely known and accepted that the church hierarchy is in full administrative control of every priest consecrated in its name worldwide. In fact, just recently, the Pope excommunicated a priest for his consecration of a female priest. That is definitely a case where local "control" was jumped over and the central authority of the Pope was invoked.
The church may use legal and financial means in different countries to hide and or obfuscate the reality of its worldwide control, but the fact is, a Catholic priest anywhere in the world has to submit to the authority and control of the Pope.
The Roman Catholic Church has been and is still now refusing to respond to this worldwide crisis of the abuse of children in any meaningful way. It has, in fact, seemingly circled the wagons and hunkered down for a long siege, apparently hoping that it can survive this by stonewalling until public attention goes away.
This very clearly signals that the new Pope, no matter how newly nice or concerned he seems to be, is still either unable to control his kingdom, or is not as concerned in reality as he would have you think from his public persona so recently scrubbed clean. I have warned that he is still mainly concentrating on cleaning up the public face of his church for the purpose of stemming the tide of Catholics who have been running out the door, taking their money with them, and this current position of the church has not changed my mind.
In fact, I believe that one of the reasons so many Catholics are still running for the door is because of the Church's stance and reactions to this crisis. How can one continue to support an organization which preaches the love and devotion of Christ for his people when it not only refuses to stop the abuse of its most vulnerable and youngest members, but protects the monsters who conduct that abuse - nay, even propagate that abuse by allowing them to move to new locations to seek new victims? One that even refuses to defrock and remove abusers from its ranks!
I am convinced that the Church, at its highest levels, not only refuses to respond to the crisis in ways the public demands, but does so because it is still of the opinion that the Church is above secular law and can weather this crisis like it has weathered so many in the past. They believe it can stonewall outsiders and just outlive the crisis.
They do have a point - this is a bureaucracy that can trace its roots back to the Roman Empire through an unbroken line of church authorities going back to the 4th century - around 1700 years!
That IS a long time, and it HAS withstood a lot of such critical problems in the past, and its international worldwide organizational reach is one reason why. Because of the fragmentary nature of the organization of the world's political States into many separate sovereign entities, they HAVE been above secular law for much of that existence. They think that this crisis is no different, and are depending on their international stature to continue to provide them with relative immunity based on that power and reputation.
But this crisis is different from past crises. In the past, information was hard to disseminate. People didn't tend to get an international sense of things, even with the new advent of TV, because that took the news media getting that sense and providing the story.
Today, we've got the Internet.
Today, information takes mere minutes to cross oceans where in the past it took hours, days, or weeks. You've heard the old saying that bad news is all over town before good news has a chance to put its shoes on? Today, good news doesn't even have time to turn off the alarm clock before the bad news is across the globe.
The Internet, as a global communications network, enables people to organize along lines of interest globally. This time, the RCC is not faced with a few isolated local authorities it can ignore with impunity. It is faced with global attention. People all across the world are watching and evaluating the Holy See's actions and words, and if many many people don't see a marked improvement in the Vatican's position, more and more people will keep running for that door.
No matter how nice the Pope is, nor what color his shoes may be.