Magazine article Conscience

Vatican Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse under Spotlight at UN

Magazine article Conscience

Vatican Handling of Clergy Sexual Abuse under Spotlight at UN

Article excerpt

THE HOLY SEE'S JANUARY appearance before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as a February follow-up report from the UN, were milestones in the attempt to call the Vatican to account for the clergy sexual abuse crisis, but onlookers have differed over exactly what that significance is. In Geneva, Holy See representatives had a five-and-a-half hour appearance before the Committee on the Rights of the Child that Bishop Charles Scicluna, former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse, described as "grueling" to Vatican Radio. However, reactions to the meeting from some media outlets were along the lines of the Irish Times, which called the outcome "a deal of mutual back-slapping."

During the meeting, Scicluna asserted that on the subject of clergy sexual abuse, "the Holy See gets it." His side went on to make some dubious claims, such as that the Vatican is only responsible for abuse that may occur within the 110-acre confines of Vatican City, and that other cases may only be handled by local bishops according to state laws. The Tablet (UK) was one of several publications to dispute the first point and hold that "the Holy See ... is the pre-eminent jurisdiction of the Church and acts accordingly for the whole Church." Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), commented on the second point: "When they say that these crimes should be prosecuted by states, it seems so disingenuous because we know that the church officials at the state level obstruct those efforts to bring justice. …

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