19 January 2011

Patron Saint of Kiddie Diddlers

A rather revolting juxtaposition emerging this week as the announcement that Pope John Paul II's bid for sainthood is proceeding at a record pace is followed, days later, with the revelation that, under his papacy, the Vatican actively discouraged Irish bishops' mandatory reporting of the sexual abuse of children.
A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims' groups described as "the smoking gun" needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

...The 1997 letter, signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's diplomat to Ireland, instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."

Storero wrote that canon law, which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church, "must be meticulously followed." Any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome, he wrote.
While I might not agree with him on every issue, I've long admired John Paul II's intellectual consistency in his formulation of the "Culture of Life" which was subsequently co-opted--and corrupted--by the far right in the United States (who conveniently tossed aside respect for life when that particular underpinning of their anti-choice rhetoric interfered with their eager, bloody embrace of capital punishment and pre-emptive war). That said, I have a pretty tough time admiring someone with any connection to or knowledge of this freakish deference to "canon law" when children were being assaulted.  Again, the comparison is as striking as it is disturbing:  It's a truly bizarre set of institutional priorities that permits casually waiving rules to get someone canonized at an unprecedented pace, but insists that they are "meticulously followed" when trying to keep abusive priests away from their prey.  Meticulousness is fine when it keeps you from using the wrong fork at a formal dinner, but not so much so when it keeps molesters off the justice system's radar. 

I don't care how many French nuns you heal, running interference for kiddie rapers takes you completely out of the sainthood sweepstakes.  We'll just have to wait and see if the Church of Rome agrees...

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