Speaking after the publication of the report of decades of almost unbelievable abuse in Catholic-run institutions in Ireland, Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society said the report “shone a spotlight on an attitude of systemic secrecy and callousness towards child abuse that has been endemic in the Catholic Church for centuries and remains even today ”.
Mr Porteous Wood said that “Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote as recently as 2001 to bishops clearly stating that a 1962 instruction called Crimen Sollicitationis was still in force. This document instructs bishops who are dealing with accusations of sexual abuse to observe strict secrecy and threatens those who speak out with excommunication. It states that the instructions are to ‘be diligently stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.’ This may be why (now Cardinal) Murphy O’Connor failed to report abusive priest Michael Hill to the authorities.”
The document was in force for the twenty years after Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was uncovered only because the Texan lawyer Daniel Shea came across it during research on child abuse in Catholic institutions .
Keith Porteous Wood added: “The Holy See is making a mockery of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. As the Vatican is the depository for this mass of incriminating information hoarded in obsessive secrecy, it certainly has a case to answer about its adherence to Article 34(b) (“take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent … The exploitative use of children in … unlawful sexual practices.”). It has also failed to produce three consecutive five yearly reports (1997, 2002 and 2007) required by the Article 44 of the Convention. They can hardly plead a nil return.
“As a direct result of the undeserved deference shown to the Holy See, no influential body, including the UN, has, as far as we are aware, had the courage to call the Holy See to account.
The National Secular Society calls on signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as national and international bodies charged with care for children to join in a demand for these apparent contraventions of the Convention by the Holy See to be highlighted, investigated and rectified.
See rest on Nick Cohen’s blog. Look out for cross talk on the comments.
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