Pope Francis and his Vatican personnel continued their admirable crusade to purge the negative stigmas that have plagued the Catholic church for decades, by revealing all the authoritative figures of the church who have been accused of being sexual or physical abuse offenders, and those who have been punished accordingly in the past ten years.
The records that were released give a year-by-year breakdown of the number of incidents reported, number of priests defrocked (the removal of a minister’s or priest’s right to perform the functions of the ordained ministry), and the number of priests penalized with lesser consequences. It was revealed by the Vatican, that in the past 10 years there have been 3,403 cases reported of physical or sexual abuse against an ordained authority of the Catholic church. Of those 3,403 cases, only 848 priests or ministers were defrocked, and 1,931 members were subject to lesser punishments. That is a total of 2,779 of the 3,403 offenders (81 percent) who were penalized for their abuses. The lesser penalties include a lifetime of penance and prayer. These are mostly reserved for more elderly or infirm officials because defrocking would, in all likelihood, lead to them being impoverished.
The reveal of this information has been considered praiseworthy by the premier United States victim group SNAP (Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests). SNAP still argues that the transparency of the crimes in the Catholic church still needs to be augmented. They have insisted that the names and whereabouts of the offenders should be revealed as well. Nick Cafardi, A United States’ canon lawyer defended the Catholic church, citing that the records reveal an improvement in how the church has dealt with its abuse situations. The first year of the record (2004) has the highest number of cases reported, which began to fall in the middle years, but now has risen slightly; despite this however, the number of priests punished has been steadily rising.
The records have been deemed praiseworthy, considering that more offenders were properly punished instead of, as the public and news sources accused, relocated from parish to parish to avoid conviction. The information was not offered up on the church’s own accord. The figures were revealed by the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador (Archbishop Silvano Tomasi) in Geneva as a response to an inquisition by a U.N. committee assigned with the task of enforcing a U.N. policy against torture. If the courts categorize the cases as torture, the Catholic church would be much more susceptible to various lawsuits.
The vice-chair of the committee, Felice Gaer, urged Tomasi to acknowledge whether the Vatican considered sexual abuse to be a form of torture, and should be punished as so. She alluded to rulings from many international institutions, including the U.N. tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which have held that sexual violence is indeed a form of torture.”I’m not a lawyer,” replied Tomasi. He refused to argue the implication, saying merely that the alleged torture and the behavior of the person inflicting it must be “consistent with the definition of the convention.” Which is defined by the U.N. committee as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person.”
By Andres Loubriel