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One in Four calls upon Vatican to introduce worldwide mandatory child protection policy

“It is simply not credible to suggest that the Vatican, and in particular Pope Benedict XIV as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Church, bear no responsibility for the ongoing sexual abuse of children by priests in Catholic dioceses across the world,” O’Gorman.

The Ferns Report, the result of an almost three year investigation by former Supreme Court judge, Mr. Justice Frank Murphy, found that the 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis was the first document of which the Inquiry was was aware directed bishops on the handling of child abuse allegations.

The report says, “This document related specifically to solicitation in the course of hearing Confession. It is of interest to the Inquiry as it also specifically dealt with how priests who abused children were to be handled and imposed a high degree of secrecy on all Church officials involved in such cases. The penalty for breach of this secrecy was automatic excommunication. Even witnesses and complainants could be excommunicated if they broke the oath of secrecy.” p.13 The Ferns Report

The Vatican has never responded to this finding and other findings in the report, which found that it had failed in its responsibilities to properly address the sexual abuse of children by its priests. The Diocese of Ferns accepted the findings of the Ferns Report without reservation when it was published in 2005.

In responding to the BBC Panorama film aired last night it is essential that church spokespersons address the substantive issues raised by the film. In particular they must address the failure of the Vatican to put in place meaningful and mandatory child protection policies across the Catholic Church worldwide.

The introduction of such a policy is within the immediate gift of Pope Benedict XIV. It is also required of the Vatican under its obilgations as a signatory to the United Convention on the Rights of Children which it signed in 1990.

Speaking today Colm O’Gorman said, “The urgent need for such a  policy is surely clear to any objective person who watched last nights film and heard about Warley, the then five year old boy repeatedly raped in 2003 by a priest known to the church to be an abuser, at a time when the Vatican required bishops to inform it of all allegations against priests any where in the world. Warley’s case, and the way in which he and his family were publicly attacked by their bishop, is a damning indictment of the Vaticans failure to adress the issue of clerical sexual abuse.”

“It is simply not credible to suggest that the Vatican, and in particular Pope Benedict XIV as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Church, bear no responsibility for the ongoing sexual abuse of children by priests in Catholic dioceses across the world” added O’Gorman.

 
 

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