Well may the pope defy “the petty gossip of dominant opinion”. But the Holy See can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state – and of the pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action – cannot stand up to scrutiny.
The truly shocking finding of Judge Murphy’s commission in Ireland was not merely that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and, despite knowledge of their propensity to reoffend, allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their victims had been sworn to secrecy.
This conduct, of course, amounted to the criminal offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors.
As Meredith points out, “Especially interesting is the part later on in the article where he points out that the Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I wonder if we will actually see this brought to the European Court of Human Rights. Or the ICC.”
A furious transatlantic row has erupted over quotes that were attributed to a retired Italian bishop, which suggested that Jews were behind the current criticism of the Catholic church’s record on tackling clerical sex abuse.
A website quoted Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism, considering how “powerful and refined” the criticism is.
The comments, which have been denied by the bishop, follow a series of statements from Catholic churchmen alleging the existence of plots to weaken the church and Pope Benedict XVI.
Allegedly speaking to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: “They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”