CHILD-protection groups in Ireland, including those within the
Roman Catholic Church, have welcomed a UN report on the Vatican's
handling of child sexual abuse by clerics, and the recommendations
that it has made.
The UN report was critical of moves by the RC Church to protect
its own reputation, and its clergy, from the revelation of decades
of sexual abuse in Ireland and elsewhere. It also criticised the
response of the Church to those whom it had harmed.
The report stated: "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 executive director of the survivor group One in Four, Maeve
Lewis, said: "This vindicates absolutely what survivors of abuse
have been saying over the past decade. The Vatican has . . . never
admitted that its policies and regulations ensured that priests
were protected at the expense of children's safety. This falsehood
is now exposed."
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic
Church in Ireland (NB-SCCCI), under the leadership of a
Presbyterian, Dr Ian Elliott, has in place procedures for all
dioceses, and is seen as highly effective.
It welcomed the UN recommendations, including the abolition of
corporal punishment, and the demand for an inquiry into, and
compensation for the victims of Magdalene Laundries.
In a statement, the board said: "We are pleased that a
significant number of observations and recommendations relating to
child abuse in the Catholic Church are already in place, due to the
work of the NB-SCCCI and the Church."
The RC Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said that the
Church's handling of child abuse by clerics had been inexcusable.
He noted that, in the 1970s, 12 serial paedophiles had been acting
in the diocese at the same time. Adoption files
requested. Philomena Lee (right), who was forced
to give up her son for adoption by nuns in the 1950s, and is the
sub-ject of the Oscar-nominated film Philomena, met Pope
Francis in Rome last week, and asked him to use his influence in
persuading the Irish authorities to release the adoption files that
they still hold.
She is also campaigning to have the adoption laws in Ireland