To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its sex-abuse crisis.
BY Wayne LaugesenRegister Correspondent
GENEVA — A Vatican delegate to the
United Nations caused a minor furor when he defended the Church’s record on
handling cases of sexual abuse among its clergy.
The delegate, Archbishop Silvano
Tomasi, also pointed out that other religions and organizations have done much
more poorly in preventing sexual abuse.
Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s
permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva, said available research
showed that 1.5% to 5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sexual abuse.
He spoke Sept. 22 in response to
criticism of the Church’s handling of sexual-abuse allegations made earlier to
the Human Rights Council by the International Humanist and Ethical Union. The
archbishop quoted from The Christian Science Monitor,
which reported that most U.S. churches hit by sexual abuse allegations were
Protestant and that sex abuse in Jewish communities is common.
According to a major 2004 study
commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 10% of U.S.
public-school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by
school employees, the archbishop added.
Yet, as much as Church leaders try
to point out the corrections they’ve made — and the prevalence of sexual abuse
in other circles — the Catholic Church
continues to be a target of criticism.
Catholic Church has paid an enormous price,” said Sherryll Kraizer, executive
director of the Denver-based Safe Child Program and an expert witness in child
sexual-abuse cases. Others don’t pay such a high price, and Kraizer worries the
culture may be trivializing child sexual-abuse cases — unless they involve
see a double standard in society and the media tolerating abuse of children by
some and not others, especially in the wake of recent cases involving
have a lot of high-profile child sexual-abuse cases showing up right now, yet
it’s not something that’s appearing as a concern on most people’s radar,”
Kraizer said, referring to cases involving Hollywood stars. “Instead of
reacting with concern and outrage, and demands for justice, it’s as if the
culture is on a sightseeing trip. We’re admiring the problem instead of
worrying about it.”
100 of Hollywood’s biggest directors and actors who say they’re dismayed by the
arrest of Roman Polanski signed a petition recently demanding his release. The
film director was arrested in Switzerland last month in connection with the
1977 rape of a 13-year-old girl. Polanski pleaded guilty to statutory rape in
order to avoid possible conviction on a forcible rape charge. He fled the
country before he could be sentenced and has lived and worked in France ever
news reports and celebrity reactions have cast Polanski as a victim. On ABC’s
“The View,” actress Whoopi Goldberg downplayed the nature of his crime, saying,
“I know it wasn’t a rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don’t
believe it was rape-rape.”
Wrong Message for Kids
actress Mackenzie Phillips told Oprah Winfrey that her rock-legend father, the
late John Phillips, raped her as a teenager. She said routine sexual encounters
between the two eventually became consensual and culminated in an abortion.
we had Mackenzie Phillips on ‘Oprah,’ saying, ‘My father raped me, and
basically it wasn’t that bad,’” Kraizer said. “We had this same kind of
downplaying of sexual abuse with all the claims about Michael Jackson. Parents
continued dropping children off at his house to spend the night.”
an incest victim whose last name has been withheld, watched the Phillips
interview and says she was appalled. The wife and mother of four was molested
as a young teenager by a relative.
almost seemed like she was glamorizing it,” Shelly said. “It was surreal. It
was like there was some question as to whether this was really such a bad
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, says the trivializing of
sexual abuse is nothing other than standard hypocrisy on the part of media and
celebrities who like their own friends but don’t like the Church.
of a relative handful of very bad people in the Church, mostly decades ago,
Hollywood can’t get enough denunciations of the Church,” said Bozell, a
Catholic who serves on the board of directors of the Catholic League. “Yet when
they know of someone they admire who did about the most awful thing one could
do to a little girl, they rally around him. It is vomitous. Finding hypocrisy
in this is like finding ice on the polar ice cap.”
surfacing in 2002 of decades-old cases of sexual abuse involving priests was
met with outrage. That spring, newspapers published 160 new stories a day on
the Church scandal. Lawsuits ensued, and some dioceses filed bankruptcy and
sold property as a result of settlements. The U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops established a new agency in Washington devoted to preventing abuse of
children and young people, overseen by the Secretariat for Child and Youth
says that Hollywood stars lining up to defend Polanski — and Phillips telling
audiences she came to enjoy sex with her father — sends the wrong message to
worry that children don’t have the skills to get out of some of these
situations,” Kraizer said. “It would be helpful if someone like Phillips would
just rail against her perpetrator and explain that incest is never okay, and
that nobody should have sex with a parent, and that children aren’t capable of
consent. But I wasn’t hearing that.”
Wayne Laugesen writes