February 27, 2019
By Geoffrey Robertson
News of the conviction and imprisonment of cardinal George Pell, number three in the Vatican, for the rape of small boys in a sacristy came as a fitting end to a papal summit on child abuse which achieved nothing.
It had begun with other cardinals attributing the problem to homosexuals in the priesthood. Of course, the reality is that priests abuse small boys, not because they are gay, but because they have the opportunity. Most are not even paedophiles, but rather sexually maladjusted, immature and lonely individuals, unable to resist the temptation to exploit their power over children who are taught to revere them as the agents of God.
A church which has tolerated the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children – a crime against humanity in any definition, needs to face unpalatable truths and to make drastic reforms.
Cover-ups are no longer an option. The magnitude of the crimes is well established and the evidence of how the Vatican and its bishops hushed them up in order to protect the reputation and finances of the Catholic church is fully proved. By insisting upon its right to deal with allegations under medieval canon law weighted in favour of the defendant and providing no effective punishment, the church itself became complicit.
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