Here is the test.
APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE IN IRELAND
Dublin, 31 January 1997
Dublin, 31 January 1997
To: the Members of the Irish Episcopal conference
The Congregation for the Clergy has attentively studied the complex question of sexual abuse or minors by clerics and the document entitled “Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response”, published by the Irish Catholic Bishops Advisory Committee.
The congregation wishes to emphasize the need for this document to conform to the canonical norms presently in force.
The text, however, contains “procedures and dispositions which appear contrary to canonical discipline and which, if applied, could invalidate the actions of the same Bishops who are attempting to put a stop to these problems. If such procedures were to be followed by the Bishops and there were cases of eventual hierarchical recourse lodged at the Holy See, the results could be highly embarrassing and detrimental to those same Diocesan authorities.
In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature”.
Since the policies on sexual abuse in the English speaking world exhibit many o[f] the same characteristics and procedures, the Congregation is involved in a global study of them. At the appropriate time, with the collaboration of the interested Episcopal Conferences and in dialogue with them, the Congregation will not be remiss in establishing some concrete directives with regard to these Policies.
For these reasons and because the above mentioned text is not an official document of the Episcopal Conference but merely a study document, I am directed to inform the individual Bishops of Ireland of the preoccupations of the Congregation in this regard, underlining that in the sad case of accusations of sexual abuse by clerics, the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity of the acts involved if the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop.
Asking you to kindly let me know of the safe receipt of this letter and with the assurance of my cordial regard, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
RTE seems to emphasise the quotation on mandatory reporting.
Who should do the reporting , surely the primary protectors of the child are the parents? Why in some cases did they not report this crime to the Gardaí? Why did some wait for a few years before they went to the Gardaí? Fear of the Church or authority, fear of what the neighbours will think, hoping that something will be done without causing scandal, protect the good name of the Church, these are the excuses used by clergy, it is not acceptable from them it is not acceptable from parents. What is sauce for the clerical goose is also sauce for the lay gander. Crimes where committed and parents failed to report a crime to the Gardaí. By failing to report a crime the parents allowed abusers to abuse other children.
Some people think that if someone does not report a crime that in itself is a crime and should be punished. However it is not a crime in Ireland not to report a crime. If the media got its wish and it did become a crime, who would be arrested. Are Dioceses to hand over the names of parents who reported child abuse to the Diocesan Authorities but never reported it to the Gardaí ? Are these Parents now to be arrested for not reporting the crimes at the time or reporting them many years later?
If you think a child has been or is being abused surely the correct procedure is to go straight to the Gardaí and then to the Health Services. I know if I was a parent that is what I would do.
The second problem with mandatory reporting is laid out in the document assessed by the Congregation of the Clergy.( You can read the whole document here)
2.2.3 The Advisory Committee recognises that this recommended
reporting policy may cause difficulty in that some people who
come to the Church with complaints of current or past child
sexual abuse by a priest or religious seek undertakings of
confidentiality. They are concerned to protect the privacy of
that abuse of which even their immediate family members
may not be aware. Their primary reason in coming forward
may be to warn Church authorities of a priest or religious who
is a risk to children.
2.2.4 The recommended reporting policy may deter such people from
coming forward or may be perceived by those who do come
forward as an insensitive and heavy-handed response by Church
authorities. This is particularly so where the complaint relates to
incidents of abuse many years earlier.
2.2.5 Nonetheless, undertakings of absolute confidentiality should
not be given but rather the information should be expressly
received within the terms of this reporting policy and on the
basis that only those who need to know will be told.5
2.2.6 In making its recommendations in regard to reporting, the
Advisory Committee considers to be paramount the safety and
protection of children and the need to prevent, where possible,
Mandatory reporting could deter people from coming forward . This is acknowledge by the Framework document but not by RTE.
Why does RTE see something sinister in the Congregations letter when the framework documents itself shows moral reservations.Why did RTE not report that the document acknowledges these reservations?'
I do not know what the practice is in other countries when it comes to counselling minors. In this country a counsellor is suppose to warn a minor that if they talk about any illegal activity the counsellor must report it. As one school girl told me ,what is the point in going to a counsellor when they will report what you say , what about confidentiality? She was in need of counselling but never went after the first session with it's initial warning.
We often hear the media and victims' groups complain that Canon Law does not require mandatory reporting. They cannot seem to comprehend that this would be an impossible canon. A minor under canon law is someone under 18. Any sexual act against a minor in canon law is a criminal offence. Not all sexual acts against a minor are a criminal offence in state law. The age of consent in the European Union ranges from 13 in Spain to 18 in Malta. What would be the point of the Archbishop of Madrid reporting to the police that one of his priest or seminarians had sex with a 15 year old. What would Peter Tatchel say if the Archbishop of Teheran reported to the police that a seminarian of 18 had sex with a 17 year old boy . More than likely the accused and his victim would be hanged. Or what would happen if the underground Bishop of Beijing reported to the Chinese Police that a priest had sex with a17 year old The Bishop would be arrested for being a member of an illegal sect, the child and its parents arrested . All sent to a re- education camp. More than likely the family's friends and relative would come under suspicion and for the safety of the state sent to the camps as well.
Here is a question for parents: If you discover that your 18 year old son or daughter is having sex with a 16 year old, will you go straight to the Gardaí and report a crime? ( the age of consent is 17) Not to to do so would be to cover up a crime, it would be aiding and abetting a crime. In the words of the media you would be harbouring a paedophile under your roof, you would be allowing the continuation of child abuse.
Again RTE like other media and victim groups think defrocking a priest is the be all and end all. But is it?A few months ago I was watching BBC Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman was having a go at the Archbishop of Dublin because a Dublin priest who had been laicised was now living in the Canarys. He wanted to know had the Diocese informed the police on the islands. First the Archbishop had only become aware of the man living there and only did so because the media had tracked him down Secondly Jeremy Paxman could not seem to understand that the AB did not know where the man had been for the last few years as he was no longer a priest and therefore free to do what he wanted.
If a priest has no criminal record and he is laicised, nobody can keep tally on him. It would be an infringement of his constitutional rights.There is absolutely nothing to prevent him from moving in next door to his victim. Is that what the media and the victims' groups want?
RTE are very selective about the abuse they broadcast
How many people have heard of institutional abuse outside of the Catholic Church? For instance how many people have heard of the case of the Bethany homes. It gets zero coverage in the Irish media yet they have a case pending in the European Court of Human Rights. They were "clients" of the Protestant equivalent of our Magdalenes. One of the Bethany Homes was in Rathgar, it once had the title of "The Bethany Home for fallen Protestant girls".
Another case of institutional abuse
How quickly the media dropped the story of the 200 children that died in state care over the last 10 years.Yes folks you have read correctly 200 children in 10 years and that is not an absolute figure. The HSE thinks it is only 200, believe it or not they don't know how many children are in their care. 200 children in 10 years is almost 1 child a month. These children were in the care of the State. Where were the street demonstrations? Did anybody put up little shoes on the railing of the Dep. of Health or the HSE, Why not? Are the lives of these children worth less than those in Catholic Institutions?
No minister resigned, no HSE official resigned. It hit the headlines and then nada. Where were all the investigative journalists? Where was the constant hounding of the government and HSE officials? Where was the use of the Freedom of Information act to get letters or documents from the Dept. of Children, Dept. of Health and the HSE? Where was the calling for a state investigation? It seems everybody wants to talk about the past and who did or did not do this or that. Nobody wants to face the problems we have today.
If I live long enough I will be reading a report in about 30 or 40 years time on the dreadful conditions endured by children in state care at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. There will probably be an enquiry and the state will have to pay billions out in compensation. If RTE are still around, they will be running programmes on who did what, when, where and why, all the time neglecting to look at themselves and their conspiracy of silence.