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Boys Town Abuses - The RCC Cover-up

Papal letter fails to calm anger over Irish abuses

Mar 20, 7:14 PM (ET)



DUBLIN (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI's unprecedented letter to Ireland apologizing for chronic child abuse within the Catholic Church failed Saturday to calm the anger of many victims, who accused the Vatican of ducking its own responsibility in promoting a worldwide culture of cover-up.

Benedict's message - the product of weeks of consultation with Irish bishops, who read it aloud at Masses across this predominantly Catholic nation - rebuked Ireland's church leaders for "grave errors of judgment" in failing to observe the church's secretive canon laws.

The pope, who himself stands accused of approving the transfer of an accused priest for treatment rather than informing German police during his 1977-82 term as Munich archbishop, suggested that child-abusing priests could have been expelled quickly had Irish bishops applied the church's own laws correctly. He pledged a church inspection of unspecified dioceses and orders in Ireland to ensure their child-protection policies were effective.

He also appealed to priests still harboring sins of child molestation to confess.

"Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God's mercy," he wrote.

But Benedict offered no endorsement of three official Irish investigations that found the church leadership to blame for the scale and longevity of abuse heaped on Irish children throughout the 20th century.

The Vatican refused to cooperate with those 2001-09 probes into the Dublin Archdiocese, the rural Ferns diocese and Ireland's defunct network of workhouse-style dormitory schools for the Irish poor.

The investigations, directed by senior Irish judges and lawyers, ruled that Catholic leaders protected the church's reputation from scandal at the expense of children - and began passing their first abuse reports to police in 1996 only after victims began to sue the church.

Nor did Benedict's letter mention recent revelations of abuse cover-ups in a growing list of European nations, particularly his German homeland, where more than 300 claimants this year have alleged abuse in Catholic schools and a choir long run by the pope's brother.

In the latest development, the leader of the German Bishops Conference apologized Saturday for failing to protect children adequately from a pedophile priest in the early 1990s in his diocese of Freiburg. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who was in charge of human resources and staffing at the time, said he should have done more to investigate the priest, who was forced into retirement in 1991 and committed suicide four years later when fresh complaints arose.

Rights campaigners in Ireland and abroad forecast that more victims in more nations will keep coming forward and opening new fronts of criticism, because the pope's promotion of secretive canon laws remains at the heart of an unsolved problem.

"We know this policy of secrecy was worldwide. The more that victims speak out, the more the scandals will spread," said Marie Collins, who was repeatedly raped by a Dublin priest while aged 13 and hospitalized in 1960. Her attacker wasn't removed from the priesthood and imprisoned until 1997.

While a cardinal at the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope, wrote a 2001 letter instructing bishops worldwide to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep church investigations secret under threat of excommunication. The Vatican insists the secrecy rules serve only to protect the integrity of the church's investigations, and should not be taken to mean the church should not tell police of their members' crimes.

But victims' advocates in Ireland and the United States said the pope again failed to make it clear whether the church considers the secular law a higher priority than canon law when seeking to stop a pedophile priest.

"The letter's underlying goal seems to have been to appease the outrage while keeping the church in control of its incriminating information," said Terry McKiernan, president of a Web-based pressure group,, that chronicles Catholic abuse scandals worldwide.

"He should have demanded that the bishops release all pertinent files and other information about all credibly accused priests. He should have demanded that every complicit official be named publicly and forced to resign," McKiernan said.

Irish victims' leaders are seeking the resignations of any bishops who transferred pedophile priests to new parishes rather than report them to police - a demand that, if applied, would likely claim the majority of Ireland's 27 bishops, given their failure to tell police of any crimes until 1996. But the pope has yet to accept even the three-month-old resignations offered by three Irish bishops linked to Dublin Archdiocese cover-ups.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope's letter contained no punitive provisions because it was pastoral, not administrative or disciplinary in nature. He said any decisions concerning resignations would be taken by the competent Vatican offices.

Benedict faulted the Irish bishops for failing "sometimes grievously" to apply the church's own laws requiring child-abusing priests to be removed from the priesthood. But he didn't rebuke them for failing to report abuse to police, saying instead they must prevent future abuse and "continue to cooperate with civil authorities."

He also repeated an excuse for the bishops' inaction that has been rejected by the Irish investigations - that they didn't understand the scale or criminality of child abuse until recent years.

"I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice," Benedict wrote in remarks addressed to the Irish bishops.

However, the Irish investigators forced the church to hand over its copious files on abuse cases dating back to the 1950s. They unearthed a paper trail confirming the Irish bishops' successful acquisition of group liability insurance in the 1980s, a decade before the deluge of lawsuits. And they found cases where Catholic officials in the 1960s reported school employees to police for abusing children, showing they understood even then it was a crime.

Andrew Madden, a former Dublin altar boy who in 1995 became Ireland's first pedophile-priest victim to go public with a lawsuit against the church, said the pope had missed the whole point of a meaningful apology.

"I don't need the pope to apologize for the child abusers. I, and untold thousands of victims like me, needed the pope to apologize for the church hierarchy's role in choosing to protect the abusers at the expense of children. That's the real scandal, and the pope has been involved in that. He's not an innocent bystander," Madden said.

Massgoers arriving Saturday at central Dublin churches and in Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, were greeted with piles of the pope's letter. Some lauded its readability and frank tone.

"I thought it was lovely. I thought it was very moving, and I hope it brings some help to all the victims," said one Armagh worshipper, Annette O'Hara. "They're the ones we should be praying for."

But outside a Dublin church, truck driver Tomas O'Reilly said he doubted the pope's sincerity and was unhappy with putting money in the collection plate. "I don't want to be paying the church's legal bills. They've only themselves to blame," he said.

At the Vatican, Lombardi was peppered with questions about why Benedict didn't directly address the German scandal or take the opportunity in the letter to make a more sweeping commentary on the global dimensions of the scandal.

Lombardi said the Irish scandal was unique in its scope, but said the pope's letter could be read to apply to other countries and cases.

"You can't talk about the entire world every time," he said. "It risks becoming banal."


Associated Press Writers Nicole Winfield and Victor Simpson in Rome contributed to this report.

--- On the Net:

Saturday's papal letter and Irish church response,

Vatican's video presentation of letter,

May 2009 report on Irish institutions for children,

November 2009 report on Dublin priests,

-- Edited by Franklin on Tuesday 22nd of March 2011 03:15:22 PM


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The Trial of the Catholic Church: A Tale of Moral and Financial Bankruptcy


The potential financial bankruptcy of the Catholic Church is rivaled only by the apparent moral bankruptcy reaching from parish priests all the way to the Papal offices of the Vatican. Tens of thousands of cases have emerged in dozens of countries from Asia to Europe and from Australia to the Americas. No country seems immune, and the vulnerability of the victims seems only contingent on the number of clergy.

Over the past week, stories have surfaced of sexual abuse that was actively hidden and aided by the current Pope while he was archbishop of Germany. Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, now Pope Benedict XVI , ignored repeated warnings regarding a priest accused of sexually abusing boys. While Ratzinger was in charge, the accused priest, Peter Hullerman, was briefly transferred to Munich for therapy.

Dr. Werner Huth, a psychiatrist from Munich, told the New York Times; “I said, For God’s sake, he [Hullerman] desperately has to be kept away from working with children… I was very unhappy about the entire story.” His warnings, which he states were repeated to Benedict’s senior aids, went unheeded(1). Soon after, he was allowed to return to parish work and interact with children. In 1986, Hullermann was finally convicted of sexual abuse yet was still allowed to continued working with altar boys. He was finally suspended, just this month.

As in Boston, where Cardinal Bernard Law was caught actively lying about what he knew, and what he did to cover up the abuse, the Catholic Church is rallying in protection of the Pope, directing attention instead on underlings, and treating the institutionalized pedophilia as isolated and unfortunate incidents(2). Pope Benedict XVI has admitted that the Church has been “severely shaken” by repeated allegations of high-level cover-ups of sexual abuse(3) ,but his recent letter of apology to Irish victims, released March 20, 2010, was poorly received and deemed inadequate(4). The letter promises an internal Vatican investigation and a year of penitence.

Adding insult to injury, Bishop Brennan, of County Wexford, Ireland, asked Irish Catholics to help pay the 10 mil Euro ($13.5 mil) settlement to some of Ireland’s more than fifteen thousand abuse victims. The Church admits complicity in the cases having actively hidden information from authorities for more than thirty years in order to protect its priests from prosecution and the Church from embarrassment(5). As the catholic Church is very involved and influential in Irish politics and governance, Irish authorities were also culpable in the cover-up and depraved indifference to the continued abuse of the children.

In one such case, Father Bill Carney, accused of abusing thirty two named victims and suspected of many more, is still free(6). Named in the Murphy report, Ireland’s official report into the sexual abuse allegations, Father Carney pleaded guilty to two cases of sexual assault in 1983 before being allowed to continue as a priest and predator, victimizing the youth of his parish for several more years. The Murphy Report states that the Church handling of the situation was nothing short of catastrophic with no obvious concern for the welfare of children. In addition, there was no attempt by the Garda, the Irish Police, to arrest him because the Catholic Church has so much power and influence in Irish government. The lack of separation between Church and State limited the peoples right to investigate and prosecute. In 1992 the Church finally acted defrocked Mr. Carney. Mr. Carney refused to comply with this judgement. The Catholic Church paid him 30,000 pounds to go away quietly.

These revelations follow closely on the heels of massive scandals in Canada, and most famously, the United States Boston Diocese. While the media coverage of the Boston diocese debauchery put the first cracks in the wall of protection that the Church provided its pedophiles, a multitude of cases around the world, and scores of others throughout the United States, including over a thousand in Los Angeles alone that cost the Church $660 mil in settlements, are tearing down those walls and eroding the very foundation of the institution. Receiving less attention in the media are recent cases in at least nineteen other countries spanning the globe with victims numbering well into the tens of thousands, thousands of which are in Australia alone(7).

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, The Czech republic, France, Haiti, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are all among the other countries trying to salvage the lives of so many of their youth destroyed by the systemic and institutionalized atrocities perpetrated by the Catholic Church(8). These are not isolated incidents. The actions of the Church have been purposeful and coordinated in perpetuating the illegal actions of their colleagues. The complicity, at all levels of the administration, has been criminal rather than only immoral and unethical. They have acted with depraved indifference to the victims while aiding and abetting the perpetrators before, during and after the execution of the offenses.

With the number of victims equal to the casualties of an international conflict, the war waged on the children of the world by the Catholic Church has been utterly one sided without any chance of defense by the innocent and hapless victims. With hundreds of additional allegations surfacing in Europe since the start of the year, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the scandal of abuse in the country’s churches and schools posed a “major challenge” that could be resolved only through a full and frank inquiry into all cases(9).

With the vast number of repeated sexual abuse cases reaching epidemic proportions, the unyielding anti-contraception and anti-abortion doctrine of the Church, affective not only in spreading deadly diseases but also in increasing the number of children, may appeal to a hidden agenda rather than simply doctrinal dictate. In the Philippines alone, a predominantly Catholic nation, hundreds of priests have committed sexual abuse against innumerable children in their care. In one case alone, twenty priests from a single parish were found guilty of such crimes(10). Twenty priests in one parish! It is difficult to accept that others in the institution were not aware while this was happening on such a large scale. According to the record, the Church offered the Filipino victims an apology with a promise that it will never happen again, much like in the case of Ireland, Canada, America etc. Despite the hundreds of church officials implicated, only a few dozen actually face any charges.

The abuses are not only committed by priests, bishops and cardinals. Horrific acts of physical and psychological abuse, as well as sexual abuse have been committed by nuns, in addition to their complicity in hiding and covering up the actions of others. Homes for unwed mothers and orphans are rife with reports of inhumane cruelty, with ritualized debasing of the defenseless inhabitants(11).

Increasing numbers of disenchanted Catholics have responded to the Vatican’s growing crisis of credibility by ‘deregistering’ from the Church. A growing number of individuals are joining a movement of ex-Catholics, called Count Me Out, who have chosen to leave what is swiftly becoming a defunct and discredited organization. The lack of responsible leadership, and demonstrated depravity of its agents, has crushed the once oppressive authority of the now archaic institution and annihilated its moral capital(12). “The ordinary person is concerned about the culture of secrecy, something that has been confirmed by the drip, drip of revelations. People will be less inclined to listen to the church on a wide range of social issues now,” says Lorcan Price, a practicing Catholic(13).

Thus far, the Catholic Church has played the role of co-victim, aligning themselves with the abused against the pedophiles they worked so hard to protect. “We are visibly seeking to heal our wounds caused by sexual abuse and moving forward as promised,” stated Bishop W. D. Gregory after the $85 mil Boston settlement in 2003 (14). The recent letter from Pope Benedict to the Irish victims was seen as focusing too narrowly on lower-ranked Irish priests and neglected the responsibility of the Vatican in the scandal(15). Even while dealing with recent sexual scandal within the very walls of the Vatican, there seems to be a concerted effort to avoid and evade(16).

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on settlements in the small fraction of cases that have been adjudicated, and perhaps billions on out of court settlements in order to keep the Churches proclivities quiet. Members are leaving the Catholic Church in droves, taking their tithes and offerings with them, and the Church faces crippling financial burdens as charges and civil suits mount world wide at an unprecedented rate. The financial impact that the Church has struggled with over past settlements could be minuscule in comparison to the demands for justice and compensation just now being discovered.

With the recidivism rate of sex offenders well above 50% (17) a conservative estimate due to the lack of reporting, trust in the institutions rehabilitation is in serious doubt. As members of the clergy have been repeated relocated internationally, and actively protected by the Church administration, responsible action dictates that any activities involving interaction between officials of the Catholic Church and minors of either gender should be suspended indefinitely pending the full prosecution and settlement of all reported cases globally. Public funding of any such programs operated by the Catholic Church must also be suspended until such an investigation and prosecution has been completed.

The Catholic Church is not in decline, it has fallen off a cliff. It is a cliff of its own design, but it is a cliff none-the-less. The people of the world, their political representatives, their law enforcement and their courts, must execute their responsibilities and demand full accountability and compensation from not only the individual perpetrators of these heinous crimes but the entire organization, including the Vatican, that both protected and aided these pedophiles. Letters of apology, hush money, and empty promises will no longer suffice. The Catholic Church, and Pope Benedict IVI, must stand trial.

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Abuse Hotline Set up by Catholic Church in Germany melts down on First Day as 4,000 People Phone In.........

An abuse hotline set up by the Catholic Church in Germany melted down on its first day of operation as more than 4,000 alleged victims of paedophile and violent priests called in to seek counselling and advice.
The numbers were far more than the handful of therapists assigned to deal with them could cope with.

In the end only 162 out of 4,459 callers were given advice before the system was shut down.
Andreas Zimmer, head of the project in the Bishopric of Trier, admitted that he wasn't prepared for "that kind of an onslaught'.

The hotline is the Church's attempt to win back trust in the face of an escalating abuse scandal that threatens the papacy of German-born Pontiff Benedict XVI in Rome.
Earlier this week it was alleged that an ally of the Pope, Bishop Mixa, beat children - a charge he has subsequently denied.
Former girls and boys testified that he beat them with fists and a carpet beater which screaming; 'The devil is in you and I will drive him out!'
Also, the bishopric of Trier reported that 20 priests are suspected of having sexually abused children between the 1950s and 1990s.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann, who was appointed last year, said on Monday that three of the cases had been passed on to public prosecutors, with two more soon to follow.
German media are calling the scandal 'the hour of the children'. Silent, often for decades after pressure was applied to both them and their families by the Church, they are now finding the courage to speak out.
The effect on the Catholic Church in Germany has been profound; people are leaving in droves, de-registering with the government department that levies an annual tax of 800 pounds each on worshippers to fund it.
A quarter of Catholics in Germany said in a recent survey they had lost faith in the Church leadership.
Pope Benedict XVI allegedly knew about one particularly disturbing paedophile case in the United States.

The Rev. Lawrence Murphy spent years molesting children at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin, but when the case came to the attention of the Vatican many years later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of of the Faith, then led by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became pope, declined to take action.
The pope made no mention of the scandal during his pre-Easter mass at the Vatican yesterday.

Read more:


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@@Breaking@@ The Pope KNEW!

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.
The correspondence, obtained by The Associated Press, is the strongest challenge yet to the Vatican's insistence that Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office.

The letter, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was typed in Latin and is part of years of correspondence between the Diocese of Oakland and the Vatican about the proposed defrocking of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle.

The Vatican refused to comment on the contents of the letter Friday, but a spokesman confirmed it bore Ratzinger's signature.

"The press office doesn't believe it is necessary to respond to every single document taken out of context regarding particular legal situations," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "It is not strange that there are single documents which have Cardinal Ratzinger's signature."

The diocese recommended removing Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office which shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision, according to a translation for AP by Professor Thomas Habinek, chairman of the University of Southern California Classics Department.

But the future pope also noted that any decision to defrock Kiesle must take into account the "good of the universal church" and the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke within the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age." Kiesle was 38 at the time.

Kiesle had been sentenced in 1978 to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two young boys in a San Francisco Bay area church rectory.

As his probation ended in 1981, Kiesle asked to leave the priesthood and the diocese submitted papers to Rome to defrock him.

In his earliest letter to Ratzinger, Cummins warned that returning Kiesle to ministry would cause more of a scandal than stripping him of his priestly powers.

"It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982.

While papers obtained by the AP include only one letter with Ratzinger's signature, correspondence and internal memos from the diocese refer to a letter dated Nov. 17, 1981, from the then-cardinal to the bishop. Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a week later.

California church officials wrote to Ratzinger at least three times to check on the status of Kiesle's case. At one point, a Vatican official wrote to say the file may have been lost and suggested resubmitting materials.

Diocese officials considered writing Ratzinger again after they received his 1985 response to impress upon him that leaving Kiesle in the ministry would harm the church, Rev. George Mockel wrote in a memo to the Oakland bishop.

"My own reading of this letter is that basically they are going to sit on it until Steve gets quite a bit older," the memo said. "Despite his young age, the particular and unique circumstances of this case would seem to make it a greater scandal if he were not laicized."

Irwin Zalkin, an attorney representing some of the victims, said he was familiar with the correspondence but wouldn't provide documents to AP.

"Cardinal Ratzinger was more concerned about the avoidance of scandal than he was about protecting children," Zalkin said in a phone interview. "That was a central theme."

As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, the priest returned to suburban Pinole to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church, where he had served as associate pastor from 1972 to 1975.

Kiesle was ultimately stripped of his priestly powers in 1987, though the documents do not indicate when, how or why. They also don't indicate what role—if any—Ratzinger had in the decision.

Kiesle continued to volunteer with children, according to Maurine Behrend, who worked in the Oakland diocese's youth ministry office in the 1980s. After learning of his history, Behrend complained to church officials. When nothing was done she wrote a letter, which she showed to the AP.

"Obviously nothing has been done after EIGHT months of repeated notifications," she wrote. "How are we supposed to have confidence in the system when nothing is done? A simple phone call to the pastor from the bishop is all it would take."

She eventually confronted Cummins at a confirmation and Kiesle was gone a short time later, Behrend said.

Kiesle was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a California law extending the statute of limitations.

He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Kiesle, now 63 and a registered sex offender, lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan's Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him for comment.

William Gagen, an attorney who represented Kiesle in 2002, did not return a call for comment.

More than a half-dozen victims reached a settlement in 2005 with the Oakland diocese alleging Kiesle had molested them as young children.

"He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap," said Lewis VanBlois, an attorney for six Kiesle victims who interviewed the former priest in prison. "When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said 'tons.'"

Cummins, the now-retired bishop, told the AP during an interview at his Oakland home that he "didn't really care for" Kiesle, but he didn't recall writing to Ratzinger concerning the case.

"I wish I did write to Cardinal Ratzinger. I don't think I was that smart," Cummins, now 82, told AP.

Documents obtained by the AP last week revealed similar instances of Vatican stalling in cases involving two Arizona clergy.

In one case, the future pope took over the abuse case of the Rev. Michael Teta of Tucson, Ariz., then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood.

In the second, the bishop called Msgr. Robert Trupia a "major risk factor" in a letter to Ratzinger. There is no indication in those files that Ratzinger responded.

The Vatican has called the accusations "absolutely groundless" and said the facts were being misrepresented.


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UN judge calls for prosecution of Pope Benedict

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Geoffrey Robertson, a renowned human rights lawyer and United Nations jurist, wants to see Pope Benedict put on trial for allegedly protecting predator priests.

In a Guardian UK piece making its rounds this week in Catholic circles, Robertson demanded the pope be "put in the dock" so that the church might "feel the full weight of international law" over its thousands of pedophilia scandals.

The pope's conduct, he said, "amounted to the criminal offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors," making Benedict a justifiable target for either the International Criminal Court or a British court acting under the legal principal of universal jurisdiction.

Other international figures who've recently been pursued by various courts under universal jurisdiction include several former Bush administration attorneys and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for the torture of terror war prisoners, along with Israeli officials who helped launch the 2008 Gaza offensive.

"Universal jurisdiction — a concept in international law — allows judges to issue warrants for nearly any visitor accused of grievous crimes, no matter where they live," the Associated Press reported. "British judges have been more open to the concept than those in other countries."

"In legal actions against Catholic archdioceses in the US it has been alleged that the same conduct reflected Vatican policy as approved by Cardinal Ratzinger (as the pope then was) as late as November 2002," Robertson wrote. "Sexual assaults were regarded as sins that were subject to church tribunals, and guilty priests were sent on a 'pious pilgrimage' while oaths of confidentiality were extracted from their victims."

He continued: "The UN at its inception refused membership to the Vatican but has allowed it a unique 'observer status', permitting it to become signatory to treaties such as the Law of the Sea and (ironically) the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to speak and vote at UN conferences where it promotes its controversial dogmas on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. This has involved the UN in blatant discrimination on grounds of religion: other faiths are unofficially represented, if at all, by NGOs. But it has encouraged the Vatican to claim statehood – and immunity from liability."

"Robertson insisted that the ICC could be used as long as the Pope’s sovereign immunity was waived and as long as jurists can show that the sex abuse scandal was carried out on a 'widespread or systematic scale,' the way that child soldiers were used in the wars in Sierra Leone and the way that sex slaves are traded internationally," The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute added.

The Catholic League of Australia was quick to launch a spirited defense of the pope, suggesting that Benedict's accusers have no evidence.

"Robertson is a Human Rights lawyer who should know better than to suggest that charges of crime should be levelled without any evidence," they opined. "Unfortunately for Mr. Robertson his desire to create controversy and his own gossip does not constitute as a source of law. Mr. Robertson also bizarrely suggests that the Vatican is not a country. He conveniently 'forgets' that 179 countries recognise the Vatican as a sovereign state. Mr. Robertson’s effort to create controversy and create publicity for himself has blinded his judgement."

For its part, The New York Times reported Saturday that as a Cardinal, Ratzinger seemed to be resisting efforts to defock a priest who molested children, waiting six long years before any action was taken.

"The matter was one of several recently reported instances in which documents have indicated that Benedict or his subordinates failed to act strongly against abuser priests — a failing that Vatican officials, cardinals and many bishops have heatedly rejected," the paper added. "The reports have surfaced amid a wave of disclosures about past sexual abuses by Roman Catholic priests around Europe."

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