"the Responses to Abuse Cases Have Been Inadequate"

By Giacomo Galeazzi
Vatican Insider
January 17, 2012

Anti-abuse demonstrations (© Temoignage cretien)

In an interview with “Temoignage Chretien” Professor Munsterman gives some initial comments in light of the shocking findings of the Deetman Committee. Meanwhile, results as a whole prove wrong the thesis that the Church is more affected by the scandals than the rest of society

Before the anti-abuse “purification” imposed by Benedict XVI on national bishops' conferences, the response of national churches to the worldwide scandal of paedophile priests has been inadequate. In fact, the “tendency to retreat, accompanied by mistrust towards the outside world” and "attempts to escape from the critical issues” must be avoided. Hendro Munsterman, Director of the Ministry of Religious Studies at the Catholic University of Lyon recognized the responsibilities of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, inspired by the shocking conclusions of the Deetman Committee, established at The Hague. The survey estimates that there have been “tens of thousands" of victims of sexual abuse by around 800 paedophile priests in the Netherlands between 1945 and 2010. "Tens of thousands of children have suffered light, serious or very serious sexual abuse by priests in the Dutch Catholic Church between 1945 and 2010,” the commission wrote in the report.

"On the basis of 1,795 reports, the Committee was able to trace 800 abusers who have worked or are working for the diocese, and at least 105 are still alive,” the report continued. Based on the results received by the Deetman Commission, Professor Hendro Munsterman, on information website Temoignage Chretien observes how the investigation conducted in the Netherlands denies that clerical celibacy leads to child abuse. Instead, the sex scandals involving "infidel" clergy are linked to "a drift due to a relationship of power and the victim’s dependence on the individual committing the abuse.” According to Hendro Munsterman, the idea that paedophilia among priests is caused by celibacy and a Catholic sexual morality that is too rigid, is "too simplistic".

"In the U.S., according to authoritative academic surveys, between 1950 and 2002, 958 out of over 109,000 priests were accused of paedophilia but the sentences were drastically reduced to just under 100 - Lorenzo Bertocchi, a Christian history student told Zenit news agency. The subject of false accusations deserves a separate mention, for example, the cases of Fr. Giorgio Covoni, of two nuns from Bergamo and of Fr. Kinsella and Sister Nora Wall in Ireland, all of whom were charged and then acquitted of abuse. These facts are important because they testify to dynamics around which accusations take shape, which are not always clear.”

Looking through the data, it seems that the scourge of paedophilia in society is very widespread and impressive. The WHO report, indicates for example that in 2002, there were 150 million girls and 73 million children, all under age and from different parts of the world, who were forced into various forms of sexual abuse. A UN report, presented to the General Assembly on July 21, 2009, gives particular focus to the situation on the web: on a global scale, the number of on-line child pornography sites is growing at a dramatic rate. For example, if in 2001 there were 261,653 websites of this kind, in 2004 the count rose to 480,000, a trend that is confirmed by consulting the annual reports of the Meter Association founded by Fr. Di Noto.

"These figures relating to the Internet seem paradigmatic to me in terms of the role now of the web in our social lives - Bertocchi points out -. It thus becomes apparent that the type of media campaign conducted, which makes the Catholic Church look like the ideal breeding ground for paedophilia, is in fact extremely prejudiced.”

At the heart of the problem is a "sex culture" which, especially since the so-called Generation of 1968, promoted a revolution aimed at "abolishing taboos". Bertocchi adds: "The spread of pornography, which to a certain extent is the symbol of this revolution is clear for everyone to see. The prevailing mentality today is that which justifies the practice of sexual unions of all kinds, the result of a thought that has its roots in De Sade, Freud, Fromm, Reich, Marcuse, whom we could call prophets of the exaltation of the orgasm."

And there are many examples today of how this culture is alive. One case that is representative is that of the Dutch pro-paedophile party recently dissolved for lack of supporters, not because of any legal ban. "The main aim of the sexual revolution of those years was to attack any kind of authority, starting from God’s authority, and this unfortunately has left a mark on the Church," says the scholar, who quotes the letter Benedict XVI wrote to the Catholics of Ireland. This letter, in addition to addressing the problem of paedophilia in the Irish clergy, also searched for the roots of the phenomenon: "The social attack against the principle of authority, hence the famous slogan “forbidden to forbid" has crept into the Church, and also in seminars where a certain interpretation has come to confuse discipline with dialogue, the result being a wider selection of candidates for the priesthood.” A survey by ECPAT found that there are about 80 million sex tourists in world that go for this kind of tourism each year. According to Intervita, an Italian non-profit organization, 10 million children are involved in this global market that has a turnover estimated at 12 billion dollars. The survey carried out by the University of Parma for ECPAT indicates the profile of the "tourist type" which is certainly not a monster: in 90% of the cases between aged between 20 and 40 years old, medium to high culture, good level income, often married. The victims, however, are aged between 11 and 15 years in the case of girls and 13-18 for boys. This kind of "tourism" is considered a crime in many countries, but nevertheless it is a very florid industry and because it is an "industry" it is difficult to stop.

All Catholics are called to return to the fundamentals of faith in order to be authentic witnesses of the Risen Lord and the conscience of the company of Christ that accompanies us every day must be clear. When the apostolic visit to Fatima, Benedict XVI affirmed that the Church is suffering from internal causes, said Bertocchi, "he was certainly referring to the wounds caused by sexual abuse cases, but I believe also to the need for doctrinal clarity essential for a return to fundamentals. Today, unfortunately, this clarity is not obvious and this confuses people.” Therefore, there is a need for "prayer, a return to a sense of the supernatural, effective exercise by the government of the Church, and a deep return to the sense of sin.” The guidance was provided on May 16, 2010 by Benedict XVI: "The real enemy to be feared and fought is sin, the evil spirit which sometimes, unfortunately, also infects members of the Church.” In the interview with Zenit Bertocchi concludes: "Unfortunately in many catecheses, the theme of "sin" is becoming less fashionable, overwhelmed by so much psychology and sociology. But admitting we are sinners is the way to receive God’s Mercy. Charity in Truth, there is no other way to give hope to the people of our time.”








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