Pope Francis has likened the sexual abuse of children by priests to a “satanic Mass” – and announced his first meeting with a group of victims at the Vatican. Speaking to reporters on the plane taking him back from his Middle East trip, he also said he was in favour of celibacy for priests but that the “the door is always open” to change. In arguably his toughest statement on a crisis which has beset the Church for more than a decade, he said he would show zero tolerance for anyone who abused children. Asked about his approach to bishops who were accused of sexual abuse, he said “there will be no daddy’s boys”, adding that three bishops were currently being investigated. “Sexual abuse is such an ugly crime … because a priest who does this betrays the body of the Lord,” he said.
“It is like a satanic Mass.”
He said he would hold a meeting with around eight victims of sexual abuse at the Vatican early in June. It would be attended by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, who is leading a commission set up to study ways of dealing with the issue. Asked whether the Catholic Church could some day allow priests to marry as they can in some other Christian churches, he said: “Celibacy is not a dogma. “It is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and I think it is a gift for the Church but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open.” The Pontiff went on to reveal he would travel to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January 2015. He also suggested he may follow in emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s footsteps and retire if he felt he no longer had the strength to do the job.
#AceWorldNews says a 25-year-old man identified only as Marcin K has filed suit against the Polish Roman Catholic Church, alleging that the church is at least partly responsible for the sexual abuse the man suffered at the hands of a clergyman who is now serving a two-year prison sentence.
It is the first time in Poland that a victim sued not only his attacker but also the church as an institution. Higher-ups in the Polish church apologized to all victims of abuse last year but refused to offer financial compensation.
The UN has called on the Vatican to “immediately remove” all clergy suspected of child abuse but, in this case, the church has said it is not liable because the priest in question acted “independently” within his parish. Marcin K is seeking 47,500 euros ($64,500) in damages as well as an apology printed in the national press.
The Helsinki Foundation human rights group is helping the plaintiff in his case.
#AceGuestNews says `Child Abuse is not a Priority for the British government according to Abuse Survivor’
There has been a worrying spate of cases of sexual abuse of children in Britain involving institutions – hospitals, care homes and even schools.
We talk to one of the men who had suffered at the hands of the staff – Tom Perry.
“If we take just one example: Hospitals are also regulated activities. And we all heard that Mr Savile, when he was working at Stoke Mandeville, nurses were telling children to pretend to be asleep if he comes around.
And why wasn’t that behaviour reported? So it starts at the bottom.
“So it is the teachers, the junior teachers, the ground staff – it is everybody. When you get that law in place it changes the culture. It is a catalyst for culture change towards child protection.
At the moment it is something that is at the back of the stove and that is the problem. It is an afterthought.”
“Unquestionably, and let me explain why. I remember my hero at school – the captain of rugby. I was a sportsman. I was the captain of rugby myself eventually.
“When the master, Mr Wright, who is to be sentenced tomorrow, didn’t turn up at breakfast – which everyone was meant to do by default, that was the rule, and he seemed to be able to flout it with impunity – it then befell the captain of rugby to take tea to the master’s bedroom. And frequently, this boy did not return. That was seen by all other members of staff.
“I knew this to be odd because I knew that members of staff had to be at breakfast. But my innocent mind couldn’t go anywhere near there being sexual abuse. That wasn’t even on my horizons. I had no clue what sex was all about, no clue at all. But I saw this and I thought that if I become the captain of rugby, that’s what I will have to do. And I did.
“Very simply, nothing is going to change. No matter the platitudes that are trolled out by schools and other institutions. No matter what is said – you can’t have a functioning child protection system without the spine of law. It is not possible.”
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#AceNewsServices says time for `Rights of the Child ‘ to be Heard’
The United Nations demanded on Wednesday that the Vatican “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers and turn them over to civil authorities, in an unprecedented and scathing report.
The UN watchdog for children’s rights said the Holy See should also hand over its archives on sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children so that culprits, as well as “those who concealed their crimes”, could be held accountable.
The watchdog’s exceptionally blunt paper – the most far-reaching critique of the Church hierarchy by the world body – followed its public grilling of Vatican officials last month.
“The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” the report said.
The Vatican was expected to issue a statement on the report later on Wednesday.
The UN committee on the Rights of the Child said the Catholic Church had not yet taken measures to prevent a repeat of cases such as Ireland’s Magdalene laundries scandal, where girls were arbitrarily placed in conditions of forced labour.
It called for an internal investigation of the laundries and similar institutions so that whose who were responsible could be prosecuted and that “full compensation be paid to the victims and their families”.
A commission created by Pope Francis in December should investigate all cases of child sexual abuse “as well as the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them,” the report said.
Abusers had been moved from parish to parish or other countries “in an attempt to cover-up such crimes,” it added.
“Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where such crimes occurred,” the UN body said.
At a public session last month, the committee pushed Vatican delegates to reveal the scope of the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests that Pope Francis called “the shame of the Church”.
The Holy See’s delegation, answering questions from an international rights panel for the first time since the scandals broke more than two decades ago, denied allegations of a Vatican cover-up and said it had set clear guidelines to protect children from predator priests.
Courtesy of: Voice of Russia, Reuters
#AceWorldNews says UN Child-Protection experts have pressured the Vatican to reveal the extent of Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. Thursday marked the first time Vatican representatives faced such a panel since the scandals first broke more than two decades ago. Pope Francis termed it “the shame of the Church”. “The best way to prevent abuses is to reveal old ones – openness instead of sweeping offences under the carpet,” Kirsten Sandberg, chairwoman of the 18-member UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, told Vatican delegates facing the panel. “We will take your questions seriously but we are not in a position to answer now,” Vatican delegation head, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, responded at the end of the session, according to Reuters.
Last week, the Justice Department convened hearings under the Prison Rape Elimination Act to examine the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse in the nation’s prisons and juvenile detention centers. As we’ve reported, the department has found alarming rates of abuse by staff on youngsters in custody. In a 2013 survey of more than 8,700 juveniles housed in 326 facilities across the country, 8 percent said they experienced sex abuse at the hands of the staff supervising them. Twenty percent of those who said they were victimized by staff said it happened on more than 10 occasions. But perhaps the most surprising finding: Nine out of 10 victims were males abused by female staffers.
The prison rape elimination legislation first passed in 2003, but it then took the Justice Department nearly 10 years to study the issue and release rules for prisons and juvenile detention centers to implement. Beginning late last year, auditors contracted by the federal government started inspecting these facilities to make sure that staff members are being trained on how to prevent sexual abuse and that there are effective means to monitor it.
American University law professor Brenda Smith has devoted much of her research to studying the problem, and she and her work helped shape the legislation that addresses it. We talked to her about the difficulty of getting the bill passed, the resistance from the corrections industry, and the psychological damage suffered by young boys who are abused by the women overseeing them. This is an edited transcript of our conversation.
People who have worked in this field know that sexual abuse in prisons has been a problem for decades. Why did it take so long to get Congress and the Justice Department to act?
I think gender has a lot to do with it. When legislation was first proposed by Rep. John Conyers in 1998, it was part of the Violence Against Women Act, and it had to get stripped out so the rest of the bill could pass.
But then, in 2001, Human Rights Watch released a report that really focused on inmate on inmate, male-on-male rape. And I think that because men could identify with the vulnerability of being sexually victimized in custody, you got a lot of traction suddenly.
And I also think that there were some other groups that came together that were concerned about it. You had the human rights organizations; you had an organization called Stop Prisoner Rape, now Just Detention International, which was comprised of mainly male survivors. Then you had some conservative groups, like the Catholic Church, the Hudson Institute, basically what they were concerned about was the spread of homosexuality.
I also think that there was concern about 2014 well, frankly, there’s just no other way to say it because it’s actually in the statute 2014 the racial dynamics of sexual victimization in custody: That white men were going to be sexually victimized by black men. So the underpinnings of the legislation were not really that wholesome.
But it was this group of very powerful co-sponsors, Ted Kennedy and Jeff Sessions in the Senate and Frank Wolf and Bobby Scott in the House. And so for some reason it just kind of took off like a bullet. And people like me and others who had done this work for a long time thought this legislation was going nowhere. Then the next thing we knew it had passed unanimously with unprecedented funding.
There’s a rising female population among the staffs in juvenile settings. What accounts for that? What challenges does that present?
It’s not that men aren’t qualified; it’s that they often can’t meet the requirements, which require a certain degree of education, no past criminal record, and passing a drug test. Women are more likely to be able to do that.
In New York, Rikers Island is majority female staff, 75 percent of them are African-American. And that’s very common in cities.
One of the things that people are still trying to understand is what the harm can be to a boy who has experience of abuse with an older woman in these facilities. What’s the current body of scholarship on female-on-male abuse?
The short of it is that anytime a wrong has happened, you need somebody to acknowledge that something wrong has happened. Just the fact that people can’t wrap their head around the fact that this was something that happened to you that should not have happened to you, that it’s not okay.
One of the biggest harms is that these guys are victims, but they don’t even get a chance to name their victim because there is such a huge culture of masculinity, it would be like, why are you complaining about that?
If nobody even recognizes that that’s a problem then there’s not going to be any services, or any education, or any intervention to address it. And because people don’t understand that, then what happens is it deepens the harm.
And as far as the long-term consequences?
Anger, violent behavior, depression, the same thing that happens to all victims, post-traumatic stress, hostility and aggression toward women, all of that is in the literature. Many of them were reared by women, who maybe didn’t protect them, so it solidifies this perception that women are not there for them.
And talk about the consequences for women who actually have been caught violating young boys. How often are you seeing prosecutions? How often are you seeing penalties levied against female abusers of boys?
Well, we’ve studied this, and this whole problem of sanctions has been there from the beginning. We’ve found about 300 cases total of female-on-male abuse 2013 cases that were reported in the media between 1990 and 2013. About 30 of the cases were related to juveniles. And if I remember correctly, of those 30, there were only seven or nine actual convictions.
But what we’re looking at is how the media characterized what happened, were they characterized as relationships? And did that characterization have an impact on the prosecution or the sanction? I think that’s a huge problem, because the likelihood of their being a sanction is really related to the importance that society places on harm to that victim.
For the most part these women pleaded guilty to things that wouldn’t lead you to believe that this person had any kind of sexual relationship with a youth, so they didn’t even have to register as a sex offender. And more often than not there is nothing about their behavior that would’ve led somebody else in a custodial setting not to hire them again.
And these are just the rare cases where there was some visibility in the media. When you talk about what happens at the facility level, and there’s no coverage, the consequences consist of a termination or a resignation. And what happens is people resign and when they resign, you don’t have to say anything. That means they can easily be hired somewhere else.
Do you see any commonalities among facilities where this seems to be particularly problematic, where there is a particularly high incidence rate?
Overcrowding. And this is true with both juvenile and adult facilities. Overcrowding means there’s an inability to supervise and a scarcity of resources, so you’re going to cut corners somewhere.
Culture is also a huge issue. What is the culture of your facility? First of all, the culture of corrections, and then there is the culture of the different shifts that people are on. And it really is an 2018 okay, you cover me, I’ll cover you kind of situation.’ And the things that can go on that people feel are acceptable are really, really, really astonishing.
- Women in Solitary Confinement: Sent to Solitary for Reporting Sexual Assault(solitarywatch.com)
- “Engendering Rape”(sentencing.typepad.com)
- Widespread abuse of juvenile inmates in Michigan prisons(rinf.com)
- ’14-Year-Old Consented to Rape By Corrections Officer’(readersupportednews.org)
- Zimbabwe: ‘Cases of Sexual Abuse Are Trivialised’(allafrica.com)
- Noting the shame of prison rape in incarceration nation(sentencing.typepad.com)