Pope’s pastoral letter – he needs to demonstrate real contrition – and come clean with the UN

PRESS RELEASE - 20 March 2010
Tuesday 23 March 2010
popularity : 1%

The pastoral letter published by the Vatican today illustrates that the Pope is in deep state of denial over his own role in the sex abuse scandals that are engulfing the Church around the world. “Not once in the letter does the Pope accept any personal blame for culture that encouraged secrecy and cover up over child abuse,” said Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society. “He heaps responsibility on to the shoulders of the bishops in Ireland without once acknowledging his own part in encouraging the cover ups, since 1981 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “The apology to victims and their families is welcome, but even that appears only secondary to his desire to see the Church recover from this scandal. The people of Ireland who read this letter will be shocked by its complacency and its lack of ability to accept blame. He does not recommend any punishment or call for any resignations from those known to be guilty.”

Mr Wood continued: “The Church was only motivated to make the apology to protecting its own reputation and its assets. The people of Ireland will not accept the Pope’s sincerity until accepts personal responsibility and instructs his nuncio Giuseppe Leanza to give evidence to the Irish Foreign Affairs Committee [1] and to publicly instruct all Church bodies to comply without obstruction with all requests by the Murphy Inquiry and all other Inquiries into the cover up of child abuse. [2] A further precondition to taking any apology seriously should be the Church contributing at least a further half billion Euros to the costs of compensation to victims of child abuse currently borne by Irish taxpayers.”

“The Vatican has still not woken up to the enormous extent of the damage to its reputation worldwide. Hardly a week has passed recently without revelations of serious problems in yet another country. Yet there is no perception that the Church really cares. No bishop or above has ever been laicised/sacked over child abuse, not just for covering up but even for being personally involved, such as Cardinal Archbishop Groer of Vienna. Some, like fugitive from US justice, Cardinal Law, former Archbishop of Boston, have even been promoted. Only when very senior heads are seen to roll and the obstruction to enquiries and secrecy stops will the Church start to regain any moral authority at all.”

Mr Porteous Wood added: “A pastoral letter in one small country is just a PR exercise. The public might think otherwise if the Pope produced the mandatory five-yearly reports (now thirteen years overdue) that the Vatican should have been sent to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child [3] dealing with the thorny question of how the Church has, or in reality has not, fulfilled its obligations worldwide under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

“That the Vatican has not filed these reports shows it has a great deal to hide. In response to my challenge at the UN Human Rights Committee in September [4] , the Pope’s representative told the plenary session that the report was “finalized as we speak”, but it still has not been filed, six months later. When I pointed this out at the UN this week, the Papal nuncio kept his head down and failed to respond.

[1] http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper...

[2] http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/JELR/Page...

[3] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodie... (Due in 1997, 2002 and 2007 – per pages 15, 26 and 39 and confirmed by telephone still unfiled by UN Committee on Rights of Child in Geneva by telephone on 11 March 2010)

[4] http://www.secularism.org.uk/upload...

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