N.Y. Pol Blasts Vatican 'Hypocricy' for Iraq Abuse Protest
'If There's Anyone in the World Who Has No Right to Speak on Sexual Abuse, It's the Vatican'
The Associated Press
Downloaded May 13, 2004
WASHINGTON - Catholic lawmaker Peter King ripped Church leaders as hypocrites Thursday for the Vatican's foreign minister claim that the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is worse for America than the Sept. 11 attacks.
"If there's anyone in the world who has no right to speak on sexual abuse, it's the Vatican," said Rep. King, an anti-abortion Republican. "This is the height of hypocrisy."
In an interview published Wednesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo described the abuses as "a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam" and said the scandal would fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity.
"The torture? A more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11. Except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves," Lajolo was quoted as saying.
Disturbing photographs of Iraqi prisoners being abused and sexually humiliated by American military at the Abu Ghraib prison have stunned the world, and prompted some Democrats to call for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign or be fired.
King said the Catholic Church should be the last group to claim moral high ground on issues of sexual abuse, given the past several years of revelations about priests abusing children for years while church officials failed to stop such behavior.
"Whatever the United States has done to prisoners in Iraq is nothing compared to what priests and nuns did to Catholic kids for decades while the Catholic hierarchy covered it up," King said.
"Think of the thousands of kids in the U.S. and Ireland who were abused by priests and nuns - you wonder where the Vatican's moral compass is."
King argued the U.S. military's investigation into the prison abuses show America has responded admirably to the abuse problem. In contrast, the church has not done enough to fix its own problems or apologize for them, he said.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the archbishop's statements show anti-American sentiment within the Vatican.
"This man is an absolute embarrassment to the Catholic Church. I read that and I was just boiling over," said Donohue.
Donohue said he disagreed with King's contention that the church should not speak out about abuse issues, but called the archbishop's comparison of the abuse scandal to Sept. 11 "singularly irresponsible, insulting, and anti-American
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