Newly selected Pope Francis has done much good work, which has awed the faithful and even surprised those who had strayed from the church.
His populist approach, a hallmark of Jesuit discipline and belief, has been met with wide approval. To him, immediately, was assigned the hope of a swift renewal of a church seen by many as corrupt and laden with hypocrisy. A church in short, that is woefully out of step with the times.
But all of the good work by the new Pontiff might be tainted, if not nullified by both the pontiff's renewal of the church's stance on abortion and reproduction rights and now, the evident signs that old problems related with child sexual abuse are still not being addressed.
The scandal that saw the selection of the new pope is the same that is resurfacing at a time when the Vatican had high hopes for its own renewal. The shadows of hundreds of molested and violated children are stepping out into the light again, and the Vatican can do nothing to stop it.
But what is more damning is the evidence that the problems that have plagued the religious institution for decades are still not been addressed properly nor vigorously.
A UN panel had been instituted to secure the implementation of Child Protection Convention and to observe what efforts the Vatican has made in handling the sex abuse scandals and cases.
Envoys were grilled this week by the UN panel. The inquiry wanted to assess how closely the Vatican has adhered to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which had been ratified by the Vatican in 1990, since the Vatican is a city State, with its own Sovereignty
The results of the inquiry however, have found that the Vatican is still quite shy in implementing the Convention, and that their coyness is justified, in the Holy See's Envoys' own words, by their limited options.
The Vatican basically is stating that its jurisdiction as a City State, is such that it only can enforce the Convention within its City State, and that what happens outside of the Vatican walls is beyond their jurisdictional reach. In other words, if a priest is a pedophile is loose in a church outside the Vatican, that priest cannot be sanctioned but in Canon law, or the laws of the Vatican State, which have nothing to do with criminal law in the place where he serves his function. Which also means that a priest can be tried and convicted by the Vatican, if that occurred, and no one outside the Vatican would know, unless it chose to divulge the process. What that also means, is that just like in the past, that priest could be shielded from the scrutiny of the local authorities. This insistence in secrecy and self management of crimes committed within the church is exactly what has fostered and abetted the widespread abuse that has so damaged the church for decades.
This response is enough to send a chill down the spine of all those people who have suffered at the hand of pedophile priests.
Pope Benedict the XVI, who was not a popular pontiff, had advocated a zero tolerance policy against child abuse and violence. But many objected to his intentions, since they believed that it was Benedict's tenure as a Cardinal, that paved the way for the mismanagement of sexual abuse cases in the past. What he did do as a pontiff however, is underwrite new stringent rules of both handling and prosecution under Vatican law of pedophile priests.
With the new Pope, people had believed that a revolution was at hand. But many have forgotten the strong self preservation instincts of the storied institution.
Although Pope Francis has added the crime of sexual abuse against children and child pornography in the Canon Law body that governs the Vatican State, that still means that the Vatican wants to govern its own crimes. For example if a priest were to be found guilty, he would be facing jail time in the Vatican jail.
But a recent case of a bishop who had knowledge of sexual abuse in his parrish by one of his priests has been handled rather shabbily. Although the bishop was tried in the Vatican and pled guilty, he was given a suspended sentence, which means that he has never left his post and continues to operate in the same parrish where the crimes occurred.
The deal then is that even though the Vatican is no longer denying that abuse is occurrig or occurred in the past, the measures it is taking still make a mockery of the laws that have been adopted in the Vatican against them. What it all means, is that the Vatican is now talking about the abuse, and maybe indicting its curia, but at the end of the day, it is not defrocking its priests, nor jailing them in the Vatican, and personnel who is abetting is also not seeing any jail time.
In the United States, only a handful of priests have ever gone to jail for the egregious crimes they have committed. Almost all of the convicted priests and nearlly all of the ones who had been accused and not convicted have not been defrocked. Furthermore, almost none of the higher prelates, bishops and cardinals has ever seen the inside of a courtroom, let alone a jail.
Partial Source : Deutsche Welle/ 1.17.13