POLITICAL observations & opinions

* SNAP challenges Vatican to open Joseph Ratzinger’s secret files of sexual abuse

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2010

St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican City

Alessandro Speciale — Special to GlobalPost …

  • a small event in Rome almost went unnoticed.
  • Four American victims of priestly sex abuse were detained by police just outside St. Peter’s Square while protesting what they call a “Vatican cover-up” of clergy pedophilia.
  • Barbara Blaine, Peter Isely, John Pilmaier and Barbara Dorris from the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP … http://www.snapnetwork.org/) had summoned journalists for a “sidewalk news conference” just a few meters from the unmarked border between Italy and the Vatican City, the smallest independent country in the world.
    • They were holding signs reading “Stop the Secrecy Now” and childhood photos that showed them at the age they were first abused.
    • They challenged the Vatican to open up the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the arm of the Vatican that upholds matters of doctrine and the place of power from which the current pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, served Pope John Paul II for more than 20 years.
      • Bishops from all over the world must report priests accused of sex crimes to that body.
    • After about 15 minutes, plainclothes Italian policemen approached the news conference and began asking attendees for identification. After about 20 minutes the police urged the activists to end their improvised press conference. Then the activists were taken into unmarked police cars and driven to a nearby police station, where they were held for two hours.
  • “They wouldn’t tell us why, at first. In the end, they told us that it was illegal to hold an unauthorized press conference,” Dorris said. “They took our passports and didn’t let us use our phones.” Their photos and signs were also confiscated.
  • Eventually, one of the group’s members managed to text the organization’s headquarters in Chicago, which Dorris said alerted the U.S. embassy in Rome. The activists were released shortly thereafter.
  • “The goal of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was to keep this secret,” Isely told journalists at the protesters’ press conference.
  • As scandal focuses more directly on the pope himself, the church has shifted from early calls for “zero tolerance” toward predator priests and cover-ups to an aggressively defensive stance.
  • The Vatican paper, L’Osservatore Romano, on Thursday rebuked recent media coverage of the scandal as an “ignoble attempt” to smear Pope Benedict “at any cost.”
  • “The prevalent tendency in the media is to ignore the facts and stretch interpretations with the aim of spreading the picture of the Catholic Church as the only one responsible for sexual abuse, something which does not correspond to reality,” the Vatican newspaper said.

read the entire article at … http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/italy/100326/catholic-church-sexual-abuse-pedophilia

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