Wednesday, May 7, 2014

torture and the Vatican

Yesterday, the day that is generally reserved for this morning's daily news, the Vatican's ambassador to the U.N., Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, released figures of the number of priests who had so far been defrocked or sanctioned over the past ten years of the priest-abuse scandal.

"The figures [848 defrocked, 2,572 sanctioned], however, only cover cases handled directly by the Holy See, not those handled by local diocesan tribunals, meaning the total number of sanctioned priests is likely far higher."

Tomasi was testifying before the U.N. committee charged with monitoring the implementation of the U.N. treaty against torture.
But significantly, he didn't dispute the committee's contention that sexual violence against children can be considered torture. Legal experts have said that classifying sexual abuse as torture could expose the Catholic Church to a new wave of lawsuits since torture cases in much of the world don't carry statutes of limitations....
Tomasi insisted that the Holy See was only obliged to abide by the torture treaty inside the tiny Vatican City State, which has a population of only a few hundred people....
There are over 410,000 Catholic priests around the world, according to the Catholic News Service.
Since there is no statute of limitations on the fallout from the torture suffered by the individual Peter's and Mary's at the hands of trusted priests, it seems fair that the playing field be leveled a bit and the Vatican might concede (however grudgingly) its role  in the horror. Tomasi's failure to dispute the contention that sexual violence can be considered torture may be a small step in the right direction, but it is hard not to hope it is indeed a step.

Strange to say when there are reportedly 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, but I could find no immediate reference to this story on either the BBC or Reuters -- two of my go-to news sources -- this morning. The Washington Post  and The New York Times managed to offer a story. I guess, at least along my news-taste spectrum,  tragedy loses its newsworthy luster when there are so many other, up-to-date tragedies.

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