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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fast Notes from UN hearing

(I'm posting this fast transcript I produced fast while the UN hearing today was taking place. Unfortunately, I missed the Vatican's opening statement as links sent out did not work for me.  A friend in Australia sent a link that worked.  So between a freelance job I was doing about Tinker Bell for a press kit of The Pirate Fairy to be released 2014, City of Angels Winging It Transcripts provides these fast notes on the UN Hearing on the Rights of the Child that took place today. M is Moderator. Apologies for typos, no time to fix them)

Moral authority.  Responsibility

Article 4 of convention of rights of child establishes legal responsibility of parties to adopt all measures to ensure rights respected.
Committee has tried to shed light on number five re implementation. 
Need to review domestic legislation.

Ought to be a revision
Question of terminology used
Legitimate and illegitimate children and how viewed in canon law.
Information and training to what extent provided in Catholic schools?
(Shoot, they are not talking about pedophile priests at all.)
Child as a rights holder
Has been said by Holy See rights of child to be seen within context of family.  “Obviously in order to be a child you don't just have a family.”
Children have rights over and beyond this, they are rights holders independently over the family.”
According to Holy See sexual abuse is a parental obligation re their children.  I would like to emphasize the Holy See defining specific criteria to evaluate and put in place the best interest of the child. 
How do you intend to regulate this question of the best interest of the child.
Mr. Cardona above quote.

Moderator asks the rest of the members to be brief, please.
It's hour 1.25 in and I've heard almost nothing about pedophile priests. 

“This room has never been packed as it is today, presence of international media.
Shows important role played by Holy See in protecting children’s rights.  And the role of this committee to ensure implementation.

Raise two issues, I want to add in this context that views of the child are not confined to judicial and administrative proceedings.  It pertains to all matters affecting children and states have obligation to assure exercise of this right.
Question whether the Holy See in promoting this right for children in catholic institutions around the world.
Now Corporal punishment. . .

FINALLY a question of pedophilia, which prevents children from developing properly and it affects them throughout their lives.  A child subjected to pedophilia loses their connection with religion.  Causes psychological and physical pain.  Does the Holy See believe that pedophilia is something that can be successfully addressed and overcome?  Can there be a network of priests to provide psychological counseling to priests.  Steps that could be taken at international level to address this problem.  To what extent will children continue to be affected if covered up.  Children have right to overcome pain from these abuses.  Is the abuser going to be held fully accountable?  In turn, what about the psychological disturbances affecting the abusers themselves.
=Miss Parsi

Miss Winter:
Question is a legal one. 

Monsieur G last speaker from committee in this round:
(So far I think 2 have mentioned sex abuse, maybe 3, not with much force.)
Welcome delegation of Holy See, thank for opening remarks
(which I missed as links did not work)

Under convention children benefit because it has been ratified by the Holy See.  We've seen that children are not consulted, not asked to provide their views and opinions.  (my head goes in my hand)  I want to ask about children’s status as beneficiaries of the convention- individual communications=

NOW a fifteen minute break 


Senor T (VATICAN):
I will try to answer some questions immediately and Monsignor (?) will answer some and then continue.
One substantive issue is Holy See has jurisdiction beyond Vatican city state, a free voluntary kind of jurisdiction, not like a state with penal laws or other mandatory provisions. 
So the Holy See is trying to facilitate the family of believers to be responsive and to carry out the measures necessary for protection and well being of children. 
Talk of new commission established by Pope Francis, it's a separate mechanism.  Where complaints can be sent for example.
The priests are educated to understand the implications also of the convention of the rights of the child, but most important point to keep in mind is priests are not functionaries of Vatican, they are citizens of own state and fall under jurisdiction of own country.
Monsieur ? is citizen of Vatican city state so procedures are under way for him to be judged according to new laws, case is still open and in process and will be judged with severity that crimes might demand.

Regarding the reservations that Holy See placed at time of ratification of convention, there is a study underway in view of whether to maintain these reservations and when process completed committee will be informed.
Also question has been raised about Koranic and Catholic schools, I think there is a misunderstanding or a substantive difference.  Catholic schools follow a program of teaching that state approves.  Second is sixty percent of children in Catholic school are not Catholic, it's a service to society, re child’s future role in society.
There is an added component in this observation that states have a responsibility to prevent incitement to hatred and divisiveness in society. So if a parochial school teaches hate, I think there is a responsibility according to international to prevent this.
Have a follow-up question from a reporter.

WOMAN:  You're going through the questions rather quickly.  You said about the commission, one of the functions it will have, receiving complaints and be independent.  We also ask the composition of that commission and about civil society that has become more mobilized, and that has representatives whose rights have been abused by some of these clerics, will they be included in this commission?
The nuncio who will be punished, will he be handed over to the justice systems of countries?  Under which law will he be sanctioned.

Well clearly the nuncio will be judged under the law of the Vatican city state, he falls under that jurisdiction as he's a diplomat.

QUESTION:  Could I also know what sanctions could be handed down to him?  Are they along same lines as justice systems for those countries. 

A:  The trial is underway, we'll have to see how matters evolve before a decision as to what crime was committed.  Then the sentences and the punishments will be handed down. I don't think it's a good idea to omment further because proceedings underway.  Commission is being established at the moment so names have not yet been published.  As soon as they names are publicly known then we will all know them.

Follow-up question:
Q:  Very briefly, thank you very much.  To Monsignor as to role of the state to control religious teachings.  And to try and prevent the preaching of principles that run counter to universal principles, I am happy to hear you- I'm surprised to see you say state has right to step in, as it's not what I see on page 9 of your report sub-paragraph K when it comes to rights of children- education.  Free choice of school and parents as to education of children. 
It says the curricula . . . ( not about pedophile priests, about rights of child to choose their religion and not be proseletized, okay. . .  )
Runs counter that what we see in the Holy See report, where it's spelled out that the state does not have right to intervene. 

A:  In reply to that I would say parental right has primacy. Parents have the right to bring up, educate children, and transmit their beliefs, religious or otherwise.  There’s no doubt the state has role to play within that.  That role is to prevent schools becoming an instrument of incitement to hatred. . . parental rights are the priority, in some way it's enshrined that way within the Convention, I see no contradiction between the report and what I have said myself here.  Priorities must have a hierarchy.  If there are social problems within a family the state does intervene. 

VATICAN ANSWER : About statistics.  There are some available in Italian published in annual report of Holy See beginning from 2005.  In year 2012 six hundred twelve new cases begun and of these 465- ?? what cases- 612 of sexual abuse.  And of these 465 more serious.  And of these 612, 418 are abuses of minors.  So for every year since 2006 statistics are available and they are published.  And one final comment, like most states, also the Holy See is revising its language regarding children born out of wedlock to avoid any discrimination.
And finally children are able to express themselves even outside context of family.  For example in Catholic tradition, children receive sacraments at their own choice, independent of the family. 
But on the first point regarding the jurisdiction of the Holy See and the Universal Catholic Church, Bishop Charles is going to clarify from the canonical point of view the position of the Holy See. 
BISHOP:  Concerns have been expressed about the policy of Holy See as the central government of the Roman Catholic Church, expressed in terms of jurisdiction as Tomaso explained.
IT is very important from outset to state that this jurisdiction does not substitute or override the states.  So it's a spiritual jurisdiction and when the local churches are faced with a report of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy, they have to

Go figure

Our guideline is to follow domestic law.

Q:  With regard to same issue, I had mentioned I wondered if guidelines shouldn't contain more information.  Say cases should le be reported.  Second point is re victim-

B:  Has to be empowerment of community, and derives from education.  A guideline from 2011 is to make
No protection of young people without education. 
certainly I think every local church and diocese has a moral duty to instruct people who come with disclosures about all their rights.  That is a moral duty which the Holy See has to promote that   people need to be educated about their rights and how to exercise them.

M: Data has been raised but not comprehensibly.  You say providing data is up to the states but as high authority of Catholic Church important you do not wash your hands.

Giving out data would help clarify the facts, prosecute, and prevent…
Ask for your information on all cases gathered by the Holy See and CDF since 2001 and other data already asked for.   

Why not do it, even if you do not regard it as an obligation- providing data.

On allocation of resources for promoting the protocol internationally. 

COMMISSION ASKS: When you know of pornography of children by clergy, have you taken interest of child into account when deciding how to proceed? 

To prevention, Your answer is not very specific.  In view of committee best way to prevent offenses is to reveal old ones and removing offender.  Openness instead of sweeping under carpet.

When you talk about your own laws to sanction behavior, what about transparency in process when you do so.  It seems to date your practices are not transparent and that victims do not take part.  What are you going to do in line with this?  And providing data as I've mentioned before? 

The new Commission you say is a complaints mechanism for children.  Confirm that children can complain about offenses re Protocol. 

Re Sale of Children, we have the Magdalene Laundries which have not been mentioned except in a different context from the protocol. 

In these laundries, residential for-profit operated 1922 to 96 by nuns, babies taken away from mothers.  Up to two thousand children illegally exported to adoptive parents mainly to wealthy families in United States.  We ask for more information and data on this and did not get it in your written replies.  We’d like to know the number of babies taken away and arrangements made to reunite mothers with children.
And all information as to whereabouts of these children and what have done to hold perpetrators responsible. 

Spanish Babies stolen from families and sold for adoption.  Were trafficked by a network of doctors nurses priests and nuns up to the early nineties.  Mothers told babies died in birth, then babies sold to “more appropriate parents” parents did not know baby stolen.
You say Holy See encourages investigation by Spanish authorities.  What does that mean in practical terms?  How do you assure crimes won’t be committed again.

Assistance to child victims: 
You say you've not had occasion to cooperate, why do you not take the initiative yourself? 

Question on impunity, priests and clerics have received
And obligation of silence still being enforced on victims, Holy See has in several cases refused to cooperate with authorities.

Has this changed now if not what do you intend to do?

To extradition, Holy See does not seek for purposes of prosecution. 

We also have questions from other members. 

Mr. C:  Very quickly, I want to focus on prevention measures.  You've said Holy See has taken steps to ensure priests et al are aware of provisions of protocol 
How does that occur?  What steps have been taken to assure this information reaches religious orders that run orphanages?  What training is offered re rights of child.  . . . re sale of children, adoption of children. . .


Thank you, Madame Chair.  I’d like to highlight the similarities between two phenomena that have been referred to and how these relate to sale of children and optional protocol.  
There are similarities and I would like to highlight the question that have already been asked. . .
Do you have information on the prevalence of incidents involving sale of children, particularly those linked to sexual abuse perpetrated by the clergy.  I mention the case in the Dominican Republic.  Members of clergy involved in sexual abuse were also found to have child pornography in their possession, the children abused were also photographed as part of those offenses.
What type of relationship is there between these two phenomena? 

Coming back to chair’s question, re Irish and Spanish, same applies in Canada and Australia, the church had a strong standpoint re family status of these girls giving birth. 
Those children are more vulnerable to exploitation by sale and many forms. 
Question re family form as reality is today children facing different family situations, low income, divorce.
Question is are you supporting in any way the families and children to curb these situations instead of being judgmental. 
All these perfect families have really never existed.  But this is another discussion. 

On the other hand related to domestic violence makes children more vulnerable.

In March 2013 when UN Commission on status of women raised these questions, the Holy See had a strong standpoint opposing the text of the final report re domestic violence issues.  What is your position re these issues.

One more before lunch break:

Mine is a very quick question re children in orphanage in Spain. 

Q:  Re definitely of crimes in protocol.  Has Vatican changed its laws regarding those two protocols? 

MODERATOR:  Does the law which now deals with sale of children- is it in canon law?  That will be all for this round.  We'll have questions on OPEC after lunch-

Lunch BREAK 

(During which I go to work on my paid job, transcribing tonight an interview for Disney about Tinker Bell.)


M: We are ready to resume with the Holy See asking questions on the protocol.   Since I'm also the reporter for the OPEC I'll ask the questions.

We welcome the criminalization of recruitment and exploitation of children as a war crime, but why not all the way up to age eighteen? 

I know Miss Winter would like to ask a question under the OPEC.  If any others please ask.

Q:  My question is international assistance and cooperation for countries where you're working.  Is there a possibility to be assistance to other countries?  Is the Holy See willing to assist the mobilized child soldiers and so on? 

ANOTHER QUESTION:   Thank you very much.   In countries where armed conflicts exist, does the Catholic Church host child soldiers escaping from the conflict area?  If yes, how are you dealing with the child soldiers in terms of rehab and so on. 

SR. T:  (FOR VATICAN) Thank you.  We start with the last question which relates to child soldiers and their rehabilitation.  This is done by the local churches.  For example Uganda- . . . rehab consists of re-introducing them to normal life . . . The question of criminalization. 

Q: [OVERLAPPING] is Uganda an example of what you do all over the world? 

A:  It's the local churches that are encouraged to take initiative because the situation is better known locally.  Uganda, Mozambique, even in Congo.  The problem is better addressed where it starts. It starts locally and we feel the possibility of finding family or relatives is much greater. 

There were questions regarding the cooperation of Holy See with civil authorities regarding crimes against children especially sexual abuse.  The Holy See cooperates with states, for example recently in Australia.  But communication has to come through the proper challenges.  The embassy to Holy See can present documentation or information and the Holy See, as far as possible and it's in a position to do it, is willing to cooperate. 

Earlier there was a question about the third protocol to the convention on the rights of the child.  So far the Holy See has not taken a position and it's studying the protocol and looking at eventual consequences for the Vatican city state and its role in the international context, after the study is over, the position will be taken. 

Again on the concern for the family, it might be of interest to know that children within the context of the family are going to be dealt with in a very specific way in October, when there will be an international synod of bishops from around the world to deal specifically with the family.  Pope Francis has convened a meeting of cardinals around the twentieth of February about the needs of children within the family. 

Q: Does that mean you can’t say anything at this stage about the questioned Miss H raised about accepting different forms.

A:  I'm coming to that.

You said that if the country concerned makes a request between embassies, that the priests concerned- do you have some kind of extradition treaty with these countries.  And what kind of support to you give to the country concerned, if they would like to take steps in terms of prosecution?
Is there support given by you in terms of collection of evidence and the whole process of prosecution or do you entirely leave it to law enforcement in that country?

A:  It will be mostly the responsibility of the local authorities re citizens that have committed  crimes against children.  It is the position of the Holy See to say that cooperation is a moral and legal obligation. 

Q: You said earlier that you would provide information if you're asked to if it's done through right chaneels. 

A:  Yes whatever is available obviously.  About the discrimination of children from different types of families, the priority is the interest of the child and protection of the child, independent of the context.  Because we believe that the interest of the child should take precedent. 

On the adoption issue . . .  different Catholic institutions around world follow state law.

Q:  With respect to adoption, my colleague is asking about the baby boxes.  In many countries, churches are operating these medieval tradition that babies can be abandoned anonymously.  Does this serve the best interest of the child?  Do you have an opinion as the Holy See on this program? 

A: (VATICAN) I must say that I'm not very informed about this topic, but I would say that the problem of children being abandoned creates a response of immediate necessity to the survival of the child and the protection of the child.   Institutions take this responsibility independent of policy. 

Q:  There are different ways also to support mothers that get a child instead of having to abandon the child? 

A: If I may, madam chairman, I agree with you.  I know of one case personally in New York City where there is a house developed for mothers who don't want to give up their child

(What is this 1952? It's awful that other parts of the world are still stigmatizing unmarried women who get pregnant.)

Q:  Miss V:  Just to add to what you were saying, is there some kind of thought given to prevention of this, because one of the reasons these children are abandoned are due to the fact that they're pregnant with no access to reproductive health services . . . look at access to women’s health services. . .

A:  (VATICAN)  Well the position of the Holy See is that priority should be given to life and therefore any effort to help these women independent of their marriage condition to bring their child to birth if they want is to help them. And yes there is an effort in different countries to educate and assist on this aspect.

There was also another question on the responsibility for children in the Holy See, actually there are different pontifical councils or departments in the government of the church with children.  Pontifical council on family is promoting issues we've just talked about, council on migration concerned with movement of minors across borders, without family relations. 

Another department is health.  Catholic education. These are different segments of concern regarding children from the perspective of their specific mandate.

M:  This is something we see with all state parties, they have different sectors that deal with different parts of the convention, we often lack oversight by one specific body.  What body has that responsibility for the CRC and the Holy See? 

A:  For the implementation of the CRC and its protocols, the secretariat of state is primarily responsible.  And then allocates responsibility for different segments of this implementation to different departments.  This is a good device that we should take home, that one form of coordination may be developed.  We can advise our government quotation marks, like the new commission can take on more responsibility for protection of children.

M:  That Commission or body could also have a monitoring function to follow-up regularly. 

A:  Yes, thank you that's good advice.

Q:  I’d simply like to clarify one point, you can’t comply with the functions of that commission.  The commission being set up by the pope is to have an operational space to allow him to deal with issues of sexual abuse and other issues.  We can acknowledge that several pontifical councils do things.  How will they be coordinated so there’s no overlap of activities?  I think it would be useful to have a body help with this.

A:  Right now there is a coordination of the different departments depending on type of activity involved, done according to the curia, the government of the Holy See by the secretariat of state. 

Re the role of civil society and how its contributed to the preparation of the response for the Holy See, some Catholic NGOs have been consulted, that are part of catholic tradition and deal with children. 

As well some of these NGOs share and highlight good practices that they have experienced over the years and can be useful to share with rest of society.  We have also used their knowledge and up to date information. 

M:  Coming back to Mr. Gusto’s question, have children been involved in any of these organizations?

A:  Children have not been consulted but indirectly through organizations in touch with them.

Another question was re specific education of priests about work with children.  Usually there is an effort, and articulated decision, to train special people for medicine, and other disciplines.  So they can take responsibility for institutions that deal with children.  And this is done normally in a kind of systematic way.  And the benefit obviously is to give ever more professional assistance and care for the children that come under the responsibility of church institutions.

Q:  Mr. C:  I would like to thank you.  About pedagogical information and health information, I was referring to training in terms of rights and in respecting the rights and content of the convention.  Not how to teach health matters, but matters linked to identity and expression.  Do you have a significant NGO for guidelines, you must not be alone with a child with the door closed. 
To ensure that rights are respected.

A:  To prevent cases of abuse of minors is a real immediate concern and there have been some measures taken in this direction that you mention.  Like for example, before entrusting work with children to a church person, be it a lay person or a cleric, there is some examination of this person, certain objective criteria have been put in place, to know exactly the background and the attitude of this person.

And this is done systematical now in several countries, at least in the United States it's been implemented and other countries as well. 

Q:  Are you also training those working with children to recognize child abuse and neglect?  How are you training your staff? 

Q:  I just want to- one question outstanding.  How many churches in the world have received that and organized plans.  These activities what form do they take? 

Q:  I'm speaking about training and I have a special question?  What part is to investigate with victims, to ask victims to come forward?  Do you have specialists trained to deal with children as victims and witnesses? 

BISHOP:  Okay I think that these concerns are very important we're very important for these questions.  With the guidelines, May 2011, CDF issued circular letter to all conferences of bishops around world asking them to start working on guidelines, because the response has to be on the local level.  The closing date was February 2012.  I have to say the response was not so punctual but I'm pleased to report that by autumn 2012 90 percent had responded by presenting guidelines. 

(Transcriber:  I HAVE AN INTERRUPTION- lose about 2 minute)

And so this is an essential element of every training program.  I would say that this concern, the values of the convention become an integral part of training for future priests is well taken.  I think that future priests should also know that there are international concerns and that there are values that are international and inter-religious our supra religious that need to be part of the program on the diocese level.  Key word is education of future agents.  The initiative in the United States that Tomaso referred to are not just for priests on the parish level but every person concerned with pastoral care.  It is a very important step forward which needs to be promoted by the Holy See in its role as the government body of the Catholic Church worldwide.

As you said the Vatican city state is a small concern but there are children there. I know that questions of screening are also important on the tiny territory of Vatican city state.  We are on the same page with the committee when it concerns the screening, profiling, and education and training of personnel. 

M:  This sounds very good but what about priests who have already been found guilty of sex abuse?  Have they been removed from their positions?  Moving them from parish to parish seemed to be quite common before. 

A? Part of prevention is to take care of offenders to prevent re-

Rehab but also not putting minors at risk.  That is a paramount concern.

The question of offe3nder mobility is of great concern.   The CDF states that it is a no-go to move people from one diocese to another. There is an obligation to advise another diocese when a priest moves of any concerns.

There is a canonical obligation to explain why transfer being made.  That is policy that has to be followed. 

The unfortunate incidents when policy is not followed make a strong case that the policy needs to be not only adopted but also enforced.

Q:  This is only for priests is it, or also for religious orders?  Are there instructions for the orders?

BISHOP:  The circular letter is addressed to the conferences of bishops. There is a specific section that says religious orders are Strongly Invited (this is the Pope inviting) says that orders have to cooperate and coordinate response so there is a uniform response.

Guidelines have to be adapted to local needs.

But has to be a uniform approach to certain problems on a unique territory.  That's why addressed to conferences, they unite all bishops.  They issue guidelines then it's the local bishops and congregations of religious that have to implement the guidelines on the ground.

Q:  (MISS WINTER)  Child abuse is not only done by people in the church.  Usually reaction is person guilty will never be with children again.  I think that similar provision can be taken even for those who have been violating children in the past.  This is not the problem of the committee, but is problem of church.

For committee, is there possibility for the Holy See to say, a child molester will never have a chance to interact with children anymore.  In Austria this was done. They were sent places where there are no children.  There are places where there are no children. 

M:  I think linked to this is also the issue of prosecuting the abusers within your own system.  One of the punishments would be to dismiss the priests.  They should not then be able to perform as priests any other place either.  Do you do that? 

HOLY SEE:  BISHOP: I would quote a very important phrase by John Paul Second on 23rd April 2002, to Cardinals of United States.  That meeting in the Vatican and he said these words.  No place for a priest or anyone who would harm the young.  This has become a very important policy statement. 

It's not only looking towards what they've done but what are they going to do in the community from not on. 

So if domestic law is not applied- because we have situations where police are informed, but don't think we have a good case or because of SOL- church is left with concern and has moral responsibility.  I think that these concerns are very legitimate, something the CDF always insists, it has become a mantra.  That every decision has to avoid any risk to minors.

Now this is very difficult to avoid risks, because there is no situation that is zero risk.  But that would help. 

The approach has to be multi-disciplinary and also a synergy of concerns, NGOS church civil society- that ensures safety of minors not only proposing a culture that is moral-

But also reducing the risk of offenders re-offending.  Something that we have to work on absolutely. 

M: It's not easy to understand what specifically you do to prevent these priests from re-committing?  Do you remove them from priesthood? 

Holy See:  Most of the priests who have been convicted of crimes against children have been dismissed from the priesthood.  There was also another point raised about the training concerning human rights, for example.  . . . (gives us a little lecture about human rights) (wish I could fast forward.)

And to answer Miss Winter’s question on specialized persons sensitized to deal with child victims of abuse, it's a process.  There is a an awareness this needs to be done, in some places more advanced than others, but process is there. 

Q:  What happens to the child victim of abuse?  Is there compensation, efforts to support rehab?  Is there responsibilities borne in terms of helping child who has been victimized to retain normalcy, or is that left to the authorities.
Second, because of the sexual abuse- by anyone not just priests, schools- is there an effort to provide protective education to children to prevent abuse. 
Thirdly is there a help line or complaints mechanism in these places where children can report at early stages? Is this something you have concerned.

BISHOP:?   There has been extensive questions on the training of children who are in contact with children but do children know about the convention and that they have rights? 

Pastoral care of victims, the response is going to be pastoral care on the local ground.  What sort of care is there for victims. 

Re award of damages, we promote personal responsibility, the person causing the damage has duty to compensate for cost.  Domestic law should be followed when it comes to award of damages and personal liability. 

There are also levels where the community can be proactive. 

Unfortunately trauma happens in a short term but effects and healing is long term.  Preventive education is priority. 

The children not only have a say, have to be proactive in defending their freedom. 

We have a term, concerns caused by grooming. 

These are concerns that are very difficult to legislate.  And are really a result of education about awareness of patterns of behavior that may be leading to abuse.  And so the education of minors should also teach them to notice patterns that are grooming them to abuse.  Lowering their defenses, like secrecy, special friendships, gifts.  This is where I think your third concern, are we acting at the right stage where trauma can be avoided.  Because if you can free a person from the grooming stages, you're helping prevent the trauma of sexual abuse.

This is an empowerment of families and the freedom to disclose whatever happens.  There are different culture aspects around the world that have to be factored in.  And we do promote these attitudes, which- this is a tall order we all know and we're not getting it right all the time, but we have to have our parameters very clear so people can be encouraged to move forward. 

Q:  Something that's been disturbing me for some time, I hope you can help me understand.  The situations you've told us about bring a great deal of hope and it would mean that we are finding a solution to a problem that has been great concern to us all. 
However on the other hand we have information from civil society that on an ongoing basis they are telling us that when a problem arose, or a complaint was filed, the complaint wasn’t dealt with in terms of the priest involved, no coordination with authorities.  The individual involved was allowed to flee go to another country.

I've actually read specific stories about this, all prior to 2011.  Between 2011 and now it would appear you're providing a solution to the problem.  On three occasions you've given us some very small examples, or a few examples. Perhaps there is an action that needs to be taken by the church in order to address these problems. 

What you need to do now is- have some type of public policy and this has to deal with everything and urgently.  Otherwise there are so many children out there, and they need to have closure in their lives.  Because they have suffered great psychological trauma and won’t be able to move forward without closure.

We as you to invest more efforts, further efforts, and to use your dissuasive power.

I think you need to get down to business, do things, concrete things, because we're dealing with specific human beings.  They tell us their pain and suffering and need answers ,

It's difficult for me to listen to so many things you're doing because in society I don't think we're facing these problems. 

Q;  Mr. C:  I’d like to clarify.  With respect to victims, you recently explained you want them to receive compensation and there’s criminal responsibility. That's fine.  But this morning you told us that the obligation of the church is to communicate the problem to the congregation and a trial is taking place internally within the Holy See.  In the cases where there’s no trial, is there ever any reparation to the victim.  Do the victims even know the trial has taken place? 

M:  We are taking the questions all at once.

Q: You pointed out the phenomenon of grooming.  IN education aimed at children, how do you actually present these phenomenon and how do you assist children in helping themselves?  Referring to grooming. 

Q:  One very specific question, you said it was judicial in each  country that would deal with sexual abuse of clergy.  But over the years so many cases have come up.  How many prosecutions have gone through.  What percentage and what punitive action has been taken.   Because it seems you hand it to local system, how effective has that been? 

M:  I would like to remind you of our questions about the data.  We want you to provide the data on all cases you've been involved in under canon law or in local countries? 


BISHOP: Follow-up is left to local churches.  So when CDF authorizes a process, it gives instructions on the procedure, but follow-up is left to local churches, because that is where the problem arises and where solution has to be worked out.  So we don't have any information about statistics about what is the effect.  The follow-up is left to the local churches. 
Question about damages in canon law.  There are two important laws on the question of damages.  There is the general principle of personal liability canon 128, says every person is obliged to make amends for any damages caused to another person, whether through malice or negligence.
Then there is a process within the canonical procedure, an action for damages, which the victim can actually promote with a canonical trial against an offender.
More important is to be able to advise victims of their rights and that is something we need to work on.  As also the important encouragement we've received, which is I think music to our ears, of saying you're on the right path.  You need to be more aggressive about getting this policy to the local churches to be applied on the local level.  That is I think very important. 

M:  Your answer said it would be best practice to set up a data system, why not also gather information from all the local churches?  It's up to you, not interfering with the state and will answer our question of what has happened, what have you done.  How many victims and have they got compensation?  All this data is possible to collect.

Re compensation, in quite a few states they have a kind of compensation scheme for victims for which nobody is personally libel.  Could you consider setting up a compensation scheme because these persons are all employed by the church, it's not independently of the church that they've done it, it's in the name of the church so to speak. 


Q: -for the Holy See, what does the size actually mean.  What more do we need in terms of guidance.  A letter establishing a duty to report?  And this policy of silencing of victims.  There are two principles that are being undermined, mainly transparency and accountability.  Unless we address these and the silencing of victims, it will be extremely difficult to make progress on the ground. 

Another point I want to raise is this committee as far as persons who have abused children, when we engage with states parties, we say make sure these persons do not become teachers.  Or collecting garbage, because they will have access to our schools.  So it shouldn't come as a surprise at all if we are concerned that people in the clergy have this track record and have access to children. 

There is currently a shortage of priests in the church.  To what extent will this focus on quantity sacrifice what this committee is interested in which is quality? 

BISHOP:  To the last intervention, I think the points are well made and well taken.  I'm with you when you say that all these nice words will be mean anything when we come back for another report if there is not more transparency and accountability on the local level.

This is something that is a constant work in progress.

And I think that when you say I understand as a rhetorical question, is quantity going to take precedence over quality, and this concerns future priests.  What candidates to accept and also who to maintain in pastor care.  My conviction is only quality will ensure good quantity and not the other way around. Because this is something that you are called for.  Only somebody who is a living example of high ideals can be spiritual leaders.  So they are in the end connected. 

MR. T:  Short comment, I agree obviously with what Bishop said, but it's not that the scarcity of vocation is going to change the requirements for preparation.  It's in the West that vocations are scarce and it's in the West where the most obvious sexual abuse of children has taken place.  So we need to keep in mind also this perspective.

Going back to request of vice chair person about children being informed on their rights- the convention has been translated into all official languages of the UN to make it known for the children to understand it.  It's an effort to reach out to children and build up their personality. 

The policy of silence may have been policy in past, but in recent years encourage transparency as release of recent documents testifies. 

AS FAR AS the Holy See is concerned, it's response has been quite strong in the last several years. 

M:  There have been examples of victims getting compensation on condition of being silent, can you comment on that? 

VATICAN: I don't have all the statistics at this moment, but in United States for example have been compensated as a result of judicial procedure, without imposing any condition.  There might have been cases in the past of agreement for compensation for silence, but I think the vast majority of the cases now is public record. 

M:  Is this issue of transparency something that goes out to all local churches? 

VATICAN:  THE official documents of the Holy See move in this direction. 

(I need to finish the TInker Bell interview.)

Thank you again madam chairperson, I don't have many answers to give except small points.  Regarding child soldiers…

M: Question from Miss Winter:

Q::  I would like the second part of my question answered, re the age of the protection of children from fifteen to eighteen. 

V:  I'm not able to answer you right away but we will propose this change, yes. 


Q:  During the break someone approached me about their particular case, now after the 2011 date we set as a benchmark
This person told me about the priest who had raped this person was transferred to India.
I have doubts as to what is happening, this change as of 2011.  We need to adopt concrete visible actions. 
The wife to appear to be a  good wife, we need to hear these testimonies from members of the church.  My question needs to be answered here. 

Regardless of the level a priest has achieved in his career, if they've committed these kinds of crimes, should they receive another court trial besides the church?  Why does this state of affairs still prevail?  I'm not convinced you are cooperating with civil courts.

Finally to close this gap we refer to, I can attest to these matters, because of these testimonies I've heard.  I suggest there be a meeting between the Holy See and these individuals. 

Civil society should be involved. 

Prove there has been a change of attitudes from the church. 

M:  Also the question of compensation and my question about data that you have in your archives.  whether you are willing to give the data to us and others?

VATICAN:  Well there is a whole list of new old questions. I'll try to give some answers.  Regarding corporal punishment 

(I'm going back to work on Tinker Bell, will check in ever 30 secs or so until they talk about pedophile priests.  May miss something.  So far the questioners are making all the points. )

Q:  In many countries the church is untouchable.  We’d like to ask you to demonstrate that you agree and support these cases transparency and the legal consequences, not only apologizing for the past happenings.

A: I think that the non negotiable principle for the child means no interest or any other question should obstruct the functioning and legitimate sovereignty of domestic law in the country, whoever is involved. 

(THEY ARE CONCENTRATING ON children born of priests and then on adoption, I'm only transcribing the stuff about pedophile priests, so.. .
(Okay, I finished the Tinker Bell transcript, can concentrate on this, now they are talking about children with AIDS and all the great work the church has done.)

Q:  MISS K:  come back to the question I raised in first part regarding child parent relations. 


M: I think we've come to the conclusion of this session, we'll have concluding remarks by Miss V:

MISS V:  Thank you.  I think we have had an extremely shall I say a good interactive discussion which is what we were looking for.  I understand you don't have answers on all the issues but we certainly advocate that all the issues raised by the committee are of vital importance. 

So I think it's very important that the meeting we have today bear some fruit, otherwise the discussions we've had will be of no use.  At the end of the day I think it was you who said it is the children who matter.  The convention is all about children, to make life better for children.  Our existence as a committee

There are practices that have continued for a very long time, and they haven't moved along to make a difference for children, and that is what we're looking for. 

I know that if you make a beginning, the time we've spent will eventually make life better for children. So thank you very much. 

MALE:  I believe that everybody who was here today has felt the same thing.  We believe we're seeing new steps being taken, we have great expectations what new steps will be taken, a dialogue with civil society will take place. 
This will attest to this new era, this new dawn for the Holy See, with all the influence you have, this moral power.  That influence and power can help you ensure that children will be protected. 


As the hearing ends, I'm hearing Whitney Houston sing, "I believe that children our our future"
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Updated: 05:44, Friday January 17, 2014. Video for this article is not available as your browser either does not support JavaScript and/or Flash Player 9+ or they are currently disabled in your browser settings.

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