An ongoing catholic threat

In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child summoned the Vatican to appear before it.  The committee admonished the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church to take demonstrable, verifiable steps to remedy decades of institutional complicity and cover-up of widespread sexual abuse of children committed by its priests.  The Church was given three years to show progress.

September 1, 2017 marked the deadline set by the UN for a status report from the Vatican.  It is now September 10th.  No report has been filed; no request for an extension has been made.

The Vatican has simply chosen to ignore the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church may no longer be front page news, but it is far from over.  In just the last three years, more than 100 victim/survivors of sexual abuse in Guam have come forward to accuse perpetrators at the very highest levels of that island’s Archdiocese of Agaña.

In 2015 in the United States, we saw the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri in April after he was convicted of a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse after he did not report a priest who had child pornography on his computer.  Just two months later, on June 15, 2015, we saw Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis and his auxiliary bishop Lee A. Piché resign, both of whom cited in their resignations the provision of Canon Law that allows a bishop to resign when some "grave reason" makes it impossible to continue to fulfill his duties — the resignations followed the announcement earlier that month on June 5th that a Minnesota prosecutor was bringing criminal charges and initiating a civil suit against the archdiocese for failing to protect children from sexual abuse.

Bishop Finn and Archbishop Nienstedt are all the more reprehensible and depraved when you consider The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (more commonly referred to as “The Dallas Charter”) was drafted, promulgated, and published in June of 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) just as the full extent of the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Church was becoming widely known by the public.

The Dallas Charter’s six key resolutions are:

  1. Creating a safe environment for children and young people.
  2. Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors.
  3. Making prompt and effective response to allegations.
  4. Cooperating with civil authorities.
  5. Disciplining offenders.
  6. Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.

Bishop Finn and Archbishop Nienstedt were guilty of ignoring three out of the six resolutions to come out of Dallas — EACH.  So, thirteen years after Dallas, once the story is off the front page… how many more Finns and Nienstedts are out there?

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) submitted a report to the United Nations in the absence of anything forthcoming from the Vatican.  You can read that alternate report by clicking here.  One paragraph from that report, I think, says it all in a nutshell:

Given the apparent disregard shown by the Vatican for the recommendations made by this Committee, which was established to assist with implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child for the protection of children around the world, and in the face of so many survivors coming forward, findings from multiple commissions and inquiries, and ongoing revelations of widespread and serious sexual violence, the Vatican’s actions and omissions can not be seen as a failure or inability to do what must be done to seriously confront, address and end sexual violence against children by clergy – but a willful refusal to do so.


The story is told of Alfred Hitchcock, who made a career of frightening people with his films, driving through Switzerland when he suddenly pointed out of the car window and said, “That is the most frightening sight I have ever seen.”  It was a priest talking to a little boy, his hand on the boy’s shoulder; Hitchcock leaned out of the car window and shouted, “Run, little boy!  Run for your life!”

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