Papal Positions on Paedophilia (Or: Over To You, Mate)


Image: Pope Benedict hands over the Vatican’s “Paedo-files” to Pope Francis

All three of the last Popes have proclaimed they are against the crimes of their paedophile priests, even if they have tended to see their actions as more of a sin than an actual crime. It has been described as a “filth” and the “smoke of Satan,” etc.

Pope Francis has added to the usual initial statements about rooting out this evil from the Catholic Church. Finally, the Vatican State has just made it a crime. It is too early to decide if his words are as hollow as his predecessors’.

Comments from most sources have remained skeptical. For example, SNAP says the new law against paedophilia represents “tweaking often-ignored and ineffective internal church abuse guidelines to generate positive headlines, but nothing more.”

SNAP also pointed to his acceptance of Cardinal Bernard Law. “One of the first actions he took was to visit perhaps the most high profile corrupt prelate on the planet, who remains a powerful church official despite having been drummed out of Boston for hiding and enabling crimes by hundreds of child-molesting clerics.”

Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has called on the Pope to institute a process where de-frocking of paedophile priests is automatic once their crimes become known. This is prompted by the notorious case of Father Stephen Kiesle, which tainted both of Pope Francis’ predecessors.

Recently, a U.N. child rights committee has called on the Vatican to release details of “all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy.”

Many will judge the new Pope’s position on paedophile priests by his responses to the findings of the Australian Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. In particular, they will be looking to see if he de-frocks those clergy committing this crime.

Probably most importantly, there is something which has not attracted as much attention, or comment. That is, what is he going to do about those church officials who covered up the crimes of priests? No-one has yet been prosecuted for this offence in Australia.

So, the final question concerning the new guy’s credibility could be – Will he also defrock those who cover up abuse?

[Postscript: The Royal Commission is currently conducting private hearings with victims in Adelaide. The NSW enquiry resumes on Monday.]

TOMORROW: Brisbane Grammar School

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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