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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs