For the first time in history, the Vatican has made some sort of a revelation over the fact that thousands of priests were penalized by the church for child abuse.
It happened this Tuesday when Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, addressed the concerns of a United Nations (UN) committee over violence against children.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its 1,852nd meeting in February, while concluding observations on the periodic report of the Holy See, alleged that the Catholic Church had ignored pleas for reform and even protected pedophile priests. According to the report, “Well-known child sexual abusers have been transferred from parish to parish or to other countries in an attempt by the church to cover-up such crimes.”
The committee’s claims also included widespread “ritual beatings of children, torture, and other cruel or degrading treatment” as well as sexual abuse and exploitation.
Archbishop Tomasi, in his address to the UN Committee on the Convention against Torture (CAT), stated that in the past decade, 848 child abusing priests had been defrocked (stripped of ecclesiastical status) while an additional 2,572 pedophile clergymen received lighter punishments, such as the imposition of a life of prayer and penitence.
While the revelation, is historic on one hand, it is insufficient because it lays out bare figures and nothing else.
These figures, however, failed to impress David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). According to Clohessy, “Every step towards more transparency about clergy sex crimes and cover ups is good. But this one – the number of priests defrocked – is largely meaningless.”
The admission of the number of punishments the Church has meted out is certainly commendable, but there is a lot which needs to be done to substantially reduce the occurrence of child abuse. This includes naming the priests who committed such acts; however, the possibility of that happening still remains distant.