'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

July 14, 2011

Catholic child protection policies are merely public relations ploys

Chain The Dogma      July 14, 2011

Catholic child protection policies are merely public relations ploys

Undermined by Popes and bishops, they fail to protect children

by Perry Bulwer

The latest report on Catholic clergy abuse in Ireland  reveals, not for the first time but with new details, how the Vatican undermined efforts by Irish bishops to implement new child protection measures starting in 1996, which included a duty to report suspected cases of child abuse to police. Those efforts were not voluntarily initiated by the bishops, but forced on them by abuse survivors who began publicizing their lawsuits, which blew open the doors to this hidden scandal.

A year later, those bishops received a confidential 1997 letter from the Vatican  warning them that their child protection policies were invalid under canon law. As a result of that interference by the Vatican more Irish children were endangered and harmed by priests. Pope John Paul II was directly responsible for crimes against children that could have been prevented but for his pastoral neglect and his preference for protecting a corrupt institution over the lives of innocent children.

According to this latest government investigation, which focuses on clergy abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, Bishop John Magee and his senior staff did not report child abuse cases to the police from 1996 to 2009. But his crimes went beyond neglect and endangerment. Encouraged by the 1997 Vatican letter, Magee did more than just fail to enact protection policies, he actively set out to cover-up clergy abuse. He suppressed information on 19 priests suspected of child abuse. He set up a fake committee, ostensibly to review abuse cases, that never met once after 1995. He produced two different written reports on a priest who admitted abusing children, omitting that admission from the report to diocesan officials. The Vatican got the full report. I assume that the police got no report.

The Vatican's culpability for crimes against children doesn't stop with John Paul II. In a 2010 pastoral letter to Ireland's Catholics, Pope Benedict continued his predecessor's pressure on the bishops, blaming them for failing to follow canon law. He wrote that there had been “serious mistakes” in the way bishops responded to abuse allegations. But apparently the bishops did try to respond appropriately by drafting child protection policies. It was Pope John Paul II who told them they could not protect children. So, one Pope tells the bishops that they cannot report child-abusing priests to the police because that would violate canon law, and the next Pope blames them for not responding properly to clergy abuse. And neither Pope has admitted any responsibility for the Vatican's role in protecting child-abusing priests, not just in Ireland, but around the world.  

This latest Irish investigation shows the sham and shame of Catholic leaders making empty promises and phony policies to protect children. For example, Irish bishops withheld over 200 abuse cases  from its own child protection board and impeded a national audit of clergy crimes. The same thing happened in Philadelphia where cardinal and bishops hid problem priests  from their own clergy abuse review board, and put church law before civil law. The credibility of all Catholic child protection policies   is now seriously undermined by the continuing cover-ups.

If the abuses and cover-ups reported in this investigation of the Coyne diocese occurred after child protection policies were supposedly put in place, then how safe are the children in the twenty-three Irish dioceses that have not yet been investigated and what abuses are yet to be exposed? We may never know as so far the government has resisted calls  by survivors to investigate all of them. And likewise in the United States, where loopholes in clergy abuse guidelines continue to endanger children. The Catholic hierarchy just doesn't get it. As recently as May 2011, the Vatican announced new guidelines stating that the responsibility for dealing with child abuse cases within the church "belongs in the first place to bishops".

It is hard not to conclude that the Catholic hierarchy consists entirely of “... aging men who have no life experience with children and show not the slightest regard or empathy for them. They claim it their duty to protect the 'unborn child' but offer no protection to the children in their schools and parishes.”


  1. Here is how the Pope's diplomat in Dublin responded to this new investigation:

    Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, speaking after his brief meeting with the foreign minister, refused to take reporters' questions. Head bowed, he read a short statement saying he wanted to stress “the total commitment of the Holy See for its part in taking all the necessary measures to ensure the protection of children.”

    What he should have said was "the total commitment of the Holy See to take responsibility for its part in crimes against children." But he would never admit that given the history of secrecy and cover-up by cardinals and bishops of the Vatican's role in child abuse.

    Mr. Leanza has come under fire in Ireland for repeatedly rebuffing requests from Ireland's series of state-ordered investigations into Catholic Church concealment of child-abuse crimes. Last year he refused to testify before a parliamentary committee trying to explore the Vatican's role.


  2. Ireland denounces Vatican role in abuse cover-ups

    Wednesday marked the first time that Ireland's parliament has lambasted the Vatican, rather than local church leaders, over the past 17 years of pedophile-priest scandals in Ireland.

    What the hell took them so long? The Irish government is almost as culpable as the Vatican.

    The government and all opposition parties unanimously backed a motion accusing the Vatican of sabotaging the Irish bishops' 1996 decision to begin reporting suspected cases of child abuse to police.

    “This is not Rome. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011, a republic of laws,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny told lawmakers.

    In a direct challenge to the Vatican, Mr. Kenny denounced what he called “the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism — and the narcissism — that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”

    He said the church's leaders had repeatedly sought to defend their institutions at the expense of children, and to “parse and analyze” every revelation of church cover-up of crimes “with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”