Vatican Official Sets the Record Straight on Abuse Scandal

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In answer to criticism about the Church’s handling of the sex abuse scandal, the Vatican’s UN Observer, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said the scandal involves homosexuality much more than pedophilia and that similar abuse is going on in other denominations at a much higher rate than in the Catholic Church.

In a statement following the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, Archbishop Tomasi said it is “more correct” to say that the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church involved ephebophilia, which is a homosexual attraction to adolescent males, rather than pedophilia, which is a sexual attraction to prepubescent children.

“Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90 per cent belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17,” the Archbishop said.

The statement was made in response to accusations made at the Council, which published a written statement by a secularist group, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), alleging that the Vatican was responsible for the proliferation of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests. The IHEU accused the Church of failing to honor obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Holy See has been heavily implicated for decades in covering up cases of child abuse carried our by its clergy and religious orders, in obstructing justice, and in failing to deal appropriately with abusers,” said Roy Brown, IHEU Main Representative at the UN Geneva.

“Yet for too long it has been given a free ride by the international community because of its presumed moral leadership. Our report is the first to bring the issue to the attention of the Council. We shall be referring to our report in the plenary of the Human Rights Council next week.”

Archbishop Tomasi corrected the record by pointing out that “available research” indicates that only 1.5 to 5 per cent of Catholic clergy had been involved in abuse allegations and suggested that the focus needs to shift to other organizations that are plagued with child sex abuse.

Quoting statistics from the Christian Science Monitor, he pointed out that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations are Protestant, and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities is also common.

The sexual abuse of children is far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbors, he said.

“As the Catholic Church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it,” the Archbishop added.

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