Two Priests Walk Into a Press Conference

The Vatican’s panel on sexual abuse of children said today that they will come out with “clear and effective” protocols to hold bishops and cardinals responsible if they do not report the crimes of sexual abuse to children. They failed to mention what the protocols would be and who exactly they are supposed to report the crime to, civil authorities or Vatican authorities. 

Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley spoke from the Vatican saying “There is so much ignorance around this topic, so much denial.”

Meanwhile, somewhere else but still within the walls of the Vatican, Rev. Federico Lombardi the Vatican spokesman said that sexual abuse of children isn’t the same as torture in regard to the Vatican’s appearance before the U.N.’s Convention against Torture Committee

According to Josephine McKenna’s story in the Religious News Service: “He urged the U.N. committee, which is holding three weeks of hearings in Geneva, to resist pressure from nongovernmental organizations “with a strong ideological character” that are intent on including the sexual abuse of minors in a discussion about torture. “The extent to which this is deceptive and forced is clear to any unbiased observer,” Lombardi said.”

He feels the Vatican is being victimized by victims rights advocates. 

Hey Cardinal Sean, I think I found some of that ignorance you were talking about. 

The U.N. Convention against Torture’s job is to make sure those who signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment treaty.

Article One of the treaty defines torture as such:
1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. (Say isn’t a priest a person acting in an official capacity for the Catholic Church and the Vatican? And a Bishop who covers up the crime is too!) It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Hey Sean, I found some of that denial too! 

I wonder if the Vatican’s sexual abuse advisory board will clarify this stance.  Who knows? According to “The commission still has no founding statutes. Its independence within the Vatican bureaucracy is unclear. Neither a new date for a future meeting nor a timeline for drafting the protocols were set.

Ah, so they just wanted to get a better headline out there than the don’t equate sexual abuse of children torture headline. Get ahead of the story. So they’ve learned a lot from Greg Burke, the former FOX News reporter turned PR guru to the Pope. Guru to the Pope… Is that a mixed metaphor? 

In fact they Vatican is loving so much what they’ve learned from Burke that they are considering a A Secretariat of Communications. And it won’t have anything to do with communications with the Holy Ghost. 

There is one thing in common with two stories however. The idea of accountability is still just an idea. Because when asked about reporting the crimes to civil authorities Cardinal Sean O’Malley said according to the same story on, “the church’s response shouldn’t depend on legal obligations, but rather “moral obligations” to report suspected abuse.”

I’ve heard that one before. 


About skipshea

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5 Responses to Two Priests Walk Into a Press Conference

  1. Judy Jones says:

    Quoted: “O’Malley said another area that the commission would address is giving advice to national bishops’ conferences to improve their own guidelines for handling abuse cases”.
    —- They already have guidelines, and so what will the punishments be for bishops who do not follow their guidelines?
    Two actions that Pope Francis can take immediately, remove and demote Cardinal Law and Bishop Finn. He does not need a Child protection committee to use his power to do this

    Silence is not an option anymore. It only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511,
    SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

  2. skiadvocat says:

    “Our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with superiors in the Church who have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children,” he (Cardinal O’Malley) told reporters.

    If the new protocols are to be “clear and effective”, how should one describe the previous protocols that contributed to the devastation of many, many children and their families throughout the entire RCC?

    Sorry to say, but “clear and effective” just is not good enough. What is needed and has been so clear, evident and obvious for many, many years is that the protocols must be ENFORCED AND IMPLEMENTED.

    On the other hand, Cardinal O’Malley might want to ask his predecessor Cardinal Law about the protocols he used to hold his clergy accountable while the Boston RCC leadership was investigating clergy abuse allegations. Why bother, the protocol that “allowed” Cardinal Law to fly to the Vatican City in the midst of such devastation and horror brought on by clergy sexual abuse was CLEARLY EFFECTIVE.

  3. says:

    Peace Skip,

    The sclerotic bureaucracy that is the Vatican has neither the intention, disposition or the capacity to “police” itself credibly and, most importantly, effectively in this manner.

    They’ll make a good show if it though. And, as usual, nothing will change. Bureaucracies disdain change.

    Such “protocols” as they introduce will, at best, provide diversionary theater while the Holy See takes its cover-up protocols into high-gear.

    Meanwhile, the Vatican will be working assiduously to cultivate the impression among the hoi polloi of actually “giving a shit” about clergy sexual abuse of children.

    If the Vatican were concerned beyond the PR inconvenience such clergy “indiscretion” engenders, it wouldn’t be taking so long for the Vatican to promulgate and institute a credible protocol to protect Catholicism’s children, young adults and mature adults from the predations of its of clergy.



  4. smpturlish says:

    “Ignorance,” “denial?” Come on Cardinal O’Malley. This is the Roman Catholic Church where every thought, word or action having to with Sex was/is considered a Mortal Sin. What about the Lord’s injunctions? What about the Moral Law? Raping a child was what? A boundary violation? an indiscretion?

    Cardinal O’Malley, Rev. Federico Lombardi: What is it about the UN convention’s definition of torture that you don’t understand?

    And statements like, “In time, we will propose initiatives to encourage….,” is simply not good enough.

    Anyone who has anything at all to do with children should be, ipso facto, a mandated reporter where sexual abuse is concerned.

    Moreover, there should be be criminal felony statutes in place for those found to have knowingly failed to report an individual about whom they know or have reason to believe or suspect questionable behavior concerning children.

    We will see the reality of a “changing culture at the top,” only if and when there are concrete actions following the quotes. The press releases look great and I’m sure the sound bites are every bit as impressive but actions speak louder than words as far as “holding church officials [bishops] accountable for not reporting suspected abuse” is concerned. Nor have previous popes held bishops responsible for putting hundreds and probably thousands of children in harm’s way by transferring credibly accused, known or convicted sexual predators to other parishes and other dioceses.

    People do have hope with Pope Francis but the clock is ticking.

    The bottom line is that no religious denomination, no synagogue, mosque, storefront or sect can or should be depended on to police themselves regarding the protection of society’s most vulnerable. We’ve seen how badly they’ve failed over the last 50 to 100 years.

    Protecting children with better laws is society’s responsibility. Statutes of Limitation on the sexual abuse of children, both criminally and civilly, have to be removed going forward. So far, bishops and State Catholic Conferences in the United States have viciously opposed and often misrepresented more adequate legislation having to do with the sexual abuse of children in states where such laws have been proposed. Colorado, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania are just a few such states.

    Oh, and yes,

    Shame on them.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Advocate for Survivors and Legislative Reform
    New Castle, Delaware

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