It appears the Vatican still has a propensity for deploying terrible representatives to handle child abuse investigations. A envoy for the Vatican recently made a startling claim:
Father Dante Simón, one of the two envoys sent by the Vatican to probe the scandal, suggested that some accusations have been dismissed because they were invented by “spiteful” boys who had fallen in love with priests and were rejected. Despite the fact that more than 60 former students have come forward with allegations involving sexual abuse at the institute, Simón chose to highlight “dismissed” cases.
“A few (cases) have been dismissed,” the priest told the Mendoza Post. “Because there are people who are spiteful. For example, a girl or a boy falls in love with a priest, and he doesn’t respond back. The boy can be very spiteful like a woman can. So, they denounce him (the priest),” Simón told reporter Martín Tejerina.
Yes, of course. Little boys and girls fall in love with priests all the time. With so many potential lovers, what is a priest to do? He will have to deny some of the children. And children, being “spiteful” little creatures, are prone to lie about being sexually abused.
Or so Father Simón would have us believe. While it is possible for children to lie about abuse, seems unlikely a child would do so out of sexual rejection. It certainly seems unlikely given the circumstances of this case:
More than 60 former students have come forward, saying they were sexually abused at the hands of priests Nicola Corradi and Horacio Corbacho, altar boy Jorge Bordón, and two administrative employees José Luis Ojeda and Armando Gómez. A nun, Kosaka Kumiko, was also recently implicated in the scandal.
According to news reports, when a five-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a priest, Kumiko allegedly forced her to wear a diaper in class, to conceal the bleeding. Other victims have accused the nun of actively participating in the abuse. Corradi has a history of sex abuse allegations that date back long before Mendoza. Italian judicial authorities had been seeking to prosecute him for a series of sex abuse cases in Verona, Italy, that occurred decades ago.
Again, while it is possible some of the children lied, it makes little sense for them to do so in this case. The accusations not only appear disturbing but also consistent between the claims. Unless we are to believe some of these 60 people colluded with each other to falsely accuse half a dozen people, the likelihood any of them lied out of spite is small.
The more plausible explanation is that the dismissed cases were too vague or inconsistent to rely on. Yes, it is possible that this is due to lies. It is also possible that it is due to the passage of time, nerves, or memory gaps. Given the frequency of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, it seems prudent to give the accusers the benefit of doubt.
The Vatican is also being as cooperative as ever:
Access to the Catholic Church’s documents is highly restrictive. Only victims, family members of detained and forced-disappeared victims, and bishops can request information. The only archives they can request, however, are those in which the name of the victim sought after is mentioned. Those interested have to complete and submit a request to the Secretary General of the Argentine Synod (CEA), which has the authority to reject the request outright.
So much for transparency. Given how many victims remain silent, chances are that no one outside of a bishop would even see the records. The article is unclear on whether the bishops are bound by the same limitations as the other groups. One would assume that the bishops could access all the records, yet the above quote suggests they can only look up certain cases as well.
That presents a host of problems, as highlighted in the article:
Many human rights groups weren’t happy with the new protocol. Though the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, for example, praised the CEA’s gesture, they criticised the rules for being extremely restrictive. “Through this method, they will give bits of information to each family… with a filter from the CEA beforehand, which means they also won’t give information linked to the global intervention by the Catholic Church’s embers to the last military dictatorship,” said the organisation.
It appears that the Church is again attempting to shield itself from scrutiny. For a group that prides itself on truth and good character, the Catholic Church and its officials appear totally bereft of such qualities.
And here I was thinking that people speaking like that about potential victims of sexual abuse so horrific that it caused heavy bleeding was tendentious feminist hyperbole. If tenured professors in the US can lose their jobs for, say, supporting due process on campus with good, compassionate arguments, how on earth is it that a priest, someone held to the highest moral standards imaginable – especially in the Catholic system, could say something this callous? While I do think that children are very able to make things up and strongly susceptible to prompting, they are children and with some likelihood victims of horrific abuse by people with what seemed like absolute power and moral authority. I am stunned, and at the moment unable to explain how we can overreach so horribly in two opposite directions.
> how on earth is it that a priest, someone held to the highest moral standards imaginable
During the inquisition, inquisitors would go about their business in pairs so that they could absolve one another of their sins. The Catholic Church has in the past offered forgiveness of sins for souls in purgatory for straight-up monetary amounts – papal “indulgences”.
Christianity does not hold people – certainly not priests – to any moral standards whatever. Forgiveness for any sin is as simple as making a formulaic little apology to God.