U.N. Committee Presses Vatican Regarding Pedophile Priests: Background information when reading The Gospel of Winter

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The Gospel of Winter

by Brendan Kiely

The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2015, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Beyond the Book:
U.N. Committee Presses Vatican Regarding Pedophile Priests

Print Review

convention on the rights of the child logoIn 2014, the Catholic Church took heat from a United Nations committee investigating its compliance with practices outlined in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention, which establishes international standards for the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children, was ratified in 1990 and is enforced by the U.N. committee that convened in January 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Specifically, the committee was interested in whether or not the Holy See, the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, has implemented its directives regarding the dispatch of priests known to have engaged in child sexual abuse.

The Church's initial response was to disclose that in 2011-2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI defrocked some 400 priests, reportedly for pedophilia. This is considered a dramatic uptick from the 171 priests that were defrocked in 2008-2009. But it is still regarded by many as a mere token action since the number included none of the higher Church officials, bishops, etc., who willfully concealed the crimes, placing protection of the Church over the welfare of children. Often these officials acted upon the direct orders from their superiors to either move the guilty priests to other parishes or retire them. It is asserted that in many parishes the policy of requiring police reporting of child sex abuse was changed so such crimes would only be handled "in house." Al Jazeera America reports that the Second Vatican Council, called Vatican II and adopted in 1962, specifically directed bishops not to turn perpetrators over to the police.

This is the first UNCRC hearing dedicated to the issue of the Church's widespread - from Boston, Massachusetts to Ireland, Mexico, England, South America, Australia and more – cover-up of its pedophile priests and their protectors.

"For too many years, survivors were the only ones speaking out about this and bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism," said Pam Spees, a human rights attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which provided a key report to the committee. "And so this is a very important moment for many, many people who are here in Geneva and around the world who will be watching as the Holy See is called for the first time ever to actually answer questions."

It may have been a long time coming, and perhaps too long for those victims and their families whose lives have been affected, but it is a step in bringing some transparency where there has been too much darkness.

Image from World Forum Foundation website
Image by Cuban artist Erik Ravelo

Article by Donna Chavez

This article was originally published in February 2014, and has been updated for the February 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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