News / Europe

Vatican Urges Sex Abuse Critics Not to Stay 'Fossilized in Past'

FILE- Pope Francis greets bishops at the end of his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, April 30, 2014.
FILE- Pope Francis greets bishops at the end of his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, April 30, 2014.
Reuters
The Vatican told critics of its sexual abuse record on Tuesday that it had developed model child protection policies over the last decade and that its accusers should not stay ``fossilised in the past'' when attitudes were different.

Addressing the United Nations Committee on Torture, the papal ambassador in Geneva admitted the Roman Catholic Church had in the past protected priests who molested minors but had not done so in years because it understood the issue better.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi was responding to questions from the committee, which grilled him on the Vatican's record on Monday and called for a permanent investigation system to end what it called a "climate of impunity" within the Church.

Groups representing victims of clerical sexual abuse said after Monday's hearing that predator priests were still being moved to other parishes, sometimes to other countries, to protect them against possible criminal charges.

Referring to that accusation, Tomasi said: "We must not be fossilized in the past.'' The "culture of the time'' in the 1960s and 1970s viewed such offenders as people who could be treated psychologically rather than as criminals, he said.

"Unfortunately, that was a mistake, as experience has shown. We have to appreciate the evolution of the culture and ... the enormous amount of work that has been done in 10 years by an institution called the Catholic Church.''

Barbara Blaine, founder and president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), accused Tomasi of dodging the issue by claiming the Church simply went along with what was the common view of experts decades ago.

"That is ludicrous. Everyone knew that raping children was a crime and it should have been reported to the police,'' she said. "They are not committing themselves to remove the sexual predators from the priesthood or from ministry. They are not punishing the bishops who conceal and cover up the sex crimes.''

"Plague and scourge"

The sexual abuse scandal has haunted the Catholic Church for over two decades but became a major issue in the United States about 10 years ago. Since then it has also disgraced local churches in Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries and badly tarnished the Church's image.

Another U.N. committee, reviewing compliance with a convention on children's rights, accused the Vatican in February of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of abuse and attempting to cover up sex crimes committed by priests.

The Vatican called its report unfair and biased. Its delegation appeared better prepared for questions this time and the three-hour session passed without polemics.

In his concluding remarks, Tomasi called sexual abuse of children "a worldwide plague and scourge'' that the Church has been effectively fighting for the past 10 years.

"I would even go as far to say that this engagement [by the Church] has been something worth probably looking at for good practices other institutions and states could copy,'' he said.

He said a total of 3,420 credible accusations of sexual abuse by priests had been referred to the Vatican in the past 10 years and 824 clerics defrocked. The Church in the United States has paid $2.5 billion in compensation to victims since 1960.

Asked about a Vatican ambassador accused of sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic, Tomasi said Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski would be tried at the Vatican but his case was delayed because not all the necessary documents had arrived yet.

Tomasi agreed with the committee that sexual abuse of children was a form of torture while adding that abortion, which the Catholic Church firmly opposes, was also torture.

Catholic Voices USA, a group defending Church positions, accused committee members of equating Catholic opposition to abortion with torture in their questions to the Vatican.

The committee is due to issue a final report on May 23 on Vatican compliance with the anti-torture convention, which it signed as an sovereign state with U.N. observer status.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Judy Jones from: Missouri
May 06, 2014 9:06 PM
'We are not fossilized in the past.'-- We are fossilized in the present and the future. But until those who sexually abused children and until those who covered up their crimes are held accountable, the present and the future look very dim for the safety of children today.

Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called "zero tolerance" policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don't have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their power and the institution rather than protecting innocent children.

Once again we urge outside law enforcement to get involved to stop these crimes against humanity.
Judy Jones, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

by: Thx from: Portland OR
May 06, 2014 5:08 PM
They STILL do not get it! ....just sweep it under the carpet, maybe it will go away...accusing the abused who want validation of being "fossilized in the past!” Tell that to your child!

by: MC from: Canada
May 06, 2014 5:00 PM
The Catholic church still has its head buried in the sand. No institutions in the world would choose to follow the path of this church in correcting a savage practice by some of its employees. Stop hiding the guilty perpetrator's and stop buying off or bribing the innocent families of the victims or victims themselves.

by: StarFall from: New York
May 06, 2014 4:55 PM
Aren't issues regarding pedophilia condemned in the bible?

Apparently not...
In Response

by: Thx from: Portland, OR
May 06, 2014 8:40 PM
...but the bible is from the past, it must be fossilized too! Maybe we should ask Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.

(Referring to that accusation, Tomasi said: "We must not be fossilized in the past.'' The "culture of the time'' in the 1960s and 1970s viewed such offenders as people who could be treated psychologically rather than as criminals, he said.)

The person who abused me in the 60's, went to prison and never made it out!

by: someone from: nebraska
May 06, 2014 4:55 PM
Oh Please ....Great False Church it is....this is not Gods Church

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs