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UN calls out the United States for failing to prosecute abusive clergy

UN calls out the United States for failing to prosecute abusive clergy

The United Nation's Committee on the Rights of the Child chastised the United States for not doing enough to bring to justice clergy guilty of child sexual abuse.
In a Committee report filed on 25 January 2013, the UN gave notice to the United States that it should,

“…take all necessary measures to investigate all cases of sexual abuse of children whether single or on a massive and long-term scale, committed by clerics.”

According to a story filed by the Religion News Service, David Clohessy, Director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, stated that the US's efforts with regard to addressing child-molesting clergy as 'woefully inadequate.' Clohessy stated,

“There has been and continues to be too cozy a relationship between religious and governmental figures. Other than a handful of local prosecutors, there’s been almost no action at the state or federal level.”

Requests for comment from the US Department of Justice and the National Association of Attorneys General were either denied or ignored. It should be noted that these types of cases are routinely handled on a local and state leve, and not by the federal government.

One of the more recent and widely known cases, the story of Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles stripping retired Cardinal Robert Mahony of his public duties was covered by The God Discussion on 1 February 2013.

According to the story, Rev Jose Gomez, the current Archbishop of Los Angeles, made an announcement that a long standing aide to Mahony had also resigned. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry gave up is position which oversaw the Santa Barbara, CA, area.

Gomez stated,

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children. The priests involved had the duty to be their spiritual fathers and they failed. Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.”

Gomez replaced Mahony in 2011, at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI.

Religion News Service also reports that Clohessy believes that targeting church leaders instead of individual priests would go a long way to quickening the process, stating,

“If even a handful of bishops went to jail for enabling child sex crimes, we believe that that would introduce massive reform. Predator priests would be caught after their third victim, not 33rd victim.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement by spokesperson Sister Mary Ann Walsh,

“Every diocese is audited every year to see that every year that parishes have safe environment programs, which include educating children so that they are aware of inappropriate contact by an adult, and are encouraged to report anything that makes them uncomfortable to a trusted adult.”

For more information, commentary and relevant links, please read the story at Religion News Service.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
  • Deborah_B

    Great article and SNAP is right about the cozy relationship between government officials and religious figures.

    • Alex

      Agreed, SNAP nailed it.

      Yes, often VERY cozy, way too cozy, IMO. "Chaplains" programs and other public positions that include the clergy results in too much "loyalty" and relationship for the police/Govt. to be objective in meting out justice for child abuse and corruption in the church. I've seen it first-hand in our situation.

  • mally el

    Why focus only on clergy? All child abusers from all areas of the community are equally guilty. If we only focus on clerics then the vast majority of abusers feel they are safe, and their victims are denied justice.

  • Arakiba

    Bunch of rapists and pedophiles. Throw all of them in jail.

  • DPierre

    SNAP director Clohessy has a lot of gall criticizing the Church for its handling of abuse when he himself failed to report his brother to police.

    http://www.themediareport.com/hot-topics/snap-survivors-network-of-those-abused-by-priests/

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  • Alex

    This quote sums it all up (and same could go for Banksters/Wall Street, ironically): “If even a handful of bishops went to jail for enabling child sex crimes, we believe that that would introduce massive reform. Predator priests would be caught after their third victim, not 33rd victim.”

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