In 2014, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child accused the Vatican of a past sex abuse cover-up. Now the U.N. is exposed for a present sex abuse cover-up.
Most people reading These Stone Walls know that the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has a monthly journal called Catalyst. In the last two pages of each issue, Catalyst lists the media outlets that have covered the Catholic League’s positions on various topics. In the March 2015 issue, for the second consecutive month, These Stone Walls appeared along with EWTN, CNN and Fox News among the dozens of media outlets cited by Catalyst.
The citation was for my post, “Je suis Charlie? J’étais Jonas!” – which surprised me. For those who do not read French, the translation is, “I am Charlie? I Was Jonah!- The Catholic League citation surprised me because TSW often comments on controversial topics currently in the news, but seldom gets noticed for it. I just never know what might stand out among the millions of blog posts taking on current events.
I sometimes come across an older post I have written about events in the news, and am struck by how much what I wrote ends up coming true. I just re-read a post I wrote five years ago in April of 2010. I read it anew with far more invested in the topic today than when I wrote it. That post is “Catholic Scandal and the News Media.”
It raised an important point about an issue that has simmered in the background of These Stone Walls for going on six years. That issue is the Catholic clergy sex abuse story, and how much the story has itself been abused in the news media to further certain agendas. On Easter Sunday 2010, for example, The Boston Globe hyped a story about a popular Massachusetts priest who, under the terms of the U.S. Bishops’ “Dallas Charter,” was removed from ministry due to a claim of sexual abuse.
In reporting the story, the Globe barely mentioned that the claim which destroyed that priest’s life was alleged to have occurred almost forty years earlier in 1971. And it was no accident that the story was reserved for the Globe’s Easter Sunday edition.
What the Globe omitted from the Easter Sunday 2010 story was the fact that the adult bringing that claim – a man in his late fifties – stood to gain a substantial financial settlement just for making the claim while proving nothing. I wrote of this in “Catholic Scandal and the News Media”:
“His contingency lawyers and their enablers in the media are counting on you having no frame Of reference to put any of the claims of priestly abuse into context. I do have a frame of reference, and I can tell you that the distortion being created by lawyers and the news media is deeply unjust – not only to Catholics and their priests, but to millions of adult victims of abuse whose suffering has been trivialized and cheapened by the distortion that only victims of Catholic priests are worth hearing and compensating.”
Since then, however, The Boston Globe was sold by its parent company, The New York Times, for less than ten cents on the dollar, a demise I described in “News on Sale.” Some like to think that in the end the Globe pretty much reaped what it had sown at the expense of truth and justice.
THE U.N. ASSAULT ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Now jump ahead to 2014. In a post entitled “The United Nations Assault on the Catholic Church,” I described an explosive 16-page report issued by the United Nations High Commissioner on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. panel, as I wrote then, “indicted and convicted the Catholic Church without investigation, without evidence, without a formal defense, and without any trial of the facts.” I know the feeling!
This public shaming of the Holy See came as a result of the emergence into public view of hundreds of claims of sexual abuse by priests dating back thirty, forty, fifty years. These were claims often brought forward by contingency lawyers who – once the mass settlement process had been established as status quo – flooded Church institutions with demands for “out-of-court” settlements with no effort at corroboration. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said N.H. contingency lawyer, Peter Hutchins when handed a $5.2 million check from the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.
The various bishops and dioceses caved in to these demands, and then a hapless U.N. committee took that to be proof enough that the claims were all true. In a courageous recent article in First Things, “Rolling Stone, Alan Dershowitz, and Catholic Priests” (May 21, 2015) Father Thomas Guarino described the cost of this abandonment of rights for the priests accused when bishops got the monkey off their backs by throwing money at it:
“This Episcopal peace comes at a heavy price…. The problem is that, in many cases, no contrary evidence can come forward because an accusation is decades old What convincing evidence could possibly be adduced to clear a man’s name? Even if a charge could be true, is lifetime suspension a proportionate penalty for a mere possibility? Should bishops be held hostage by forces dividing them from their own priests?” (Fr Thomas Guarino, First Things)
The United Nations had no such interest in basic civil rights like the presumption of innocence. Claudia Rosett, who heads the Investigative Reporting Project for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, also reacted to the U.N. Commission report on the Vatican with a similarly titled column in The Wall Street Journal (“The U.N. Assault on the Catholic Church,” WSJ, February 10, 2014). Ms. Rosett described the report:
“A Report on the Holy See – released by a U.N. Committee last week to much media fanfare – alleged that tens of thousands of children have been abused by Catholic clerics and that the Vatican has helped cover it up.”
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, described that U.N. report as “one of the most ambitious power grab efforts ever undertaken by a U.N. committee.” The report was, of course, a lie, simply repeating a media mantra. But in the process of describing this in The Wall Street Journal, Claudia Rosett exposed another big lie, one belonging to the United Nations itself.
NOW HIRING: A U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER OF HYPOCRISY
Between 2007 and 2013, United Nations peacekeeper forces have been repeatedly implicated in the sexual abuse of children they were tasked to protect, and the U.N. has now been implicated in a cover-up of that fact. But the most disturbing part of this story is the extent to which it has been ignored – another form of cover-up – by the American news media. In fact, Ms. Rosett’s above column in the WSJ was likely the first hint of the scandal at the U.N. that appeared in mainstream U.S. news.
Since then, other media outlets have taken this up, but few of them in the United States. Sandra Laville, in The Guardian (U.K.) covered a report leaked to her newspaper alleging that the U.N.’S own investigation revealed “the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless boys” by French U.N. peacekeeper forces operating in the Central African Republic.
As sickening as that charge is, it gets much worse. French president Francois Hollande promised that France would prosecute those soldiers. The story came to light only because of a whistleblower. According to Matheiu Delahouse in the French paper, Le Nouvel Observateur, the U.N. marked its report on this matter “secret” and filed it away.
This is a story worth telling. The French government was not even informed of the claims against its soldiers until a man named Anders Kompass, a Swedish citizen working for the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees, “broke protocol and gave a copy of the report to the French government,” according to The Week:
“Naturally, the French investigators asked if they could speak to the U.N. investigator who wrote the report, but the U.N…refused to allow that. Meanwhile, Kompass, the whistleblower, has been punished and may lose his job. Saying he leaked a confidential document, the self-interested bureaucrats at the U.N. have suspended this 30-year veteran of humanitarian work for intervening on behalf of children.” (The Week, “United Nations: Riding sexual abuse by peacekeepers,” May 15, 2015)
Rosa Freedman, writing at TheConversation.com from Australia, charged that the U.N. has “a long and sordid history of covering up sexual abuse by peacekeepers.” Simon Allison, writing from South Africa for The Daily Maverick observed about the U.N., “Who can trust an institution that covers up the sexual abuse of minors?”
The very fact that such a question is now asked of the United Nations itself after it dragged the Holy See through a round of public mudslinging is symptomatic of an institution in crisis. The situation is more hypocritical than it appears.
I wrote a second time last year of the hubris and hypocrisy of the U.N.’s finger pointing in “The U.N. in the Time of Cholera.” In that post I described evidence that even while the U.N. was pointing fingers at the Vatican for decades-old and unproven claims of abuse, the U.N. was itself being sued.
In 2014, the United Nations employed any and every legal means to fight off a lawsuit from the beleaguered people of Haiti after its unscreened peacekeeper forces caused the deaths of innumerable children by bring a cholera outbreak to their earthquake stricken country. One of its defenses was to blame the people of Haiti for the cholera, a plague that killed hundreds of Haitian children.
The saddest part of this story is that the Holy See sent emissaries to the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child to assure the U.N. that many hundreds of priests have been cast out after being accused in these decades-old claims of abuse. In “The U.N. Assault on the Catholic Church,” (WSJ, February 10, 2014), Claudia Rosett proposed a more fitting response from the Church to the U.N.:
“Pope Francis might want to consider that it is precisely to avoid gross intrusion by U.N. ‘experts’ that the United States signed, but never ratified, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child This treaty has less to do with children than with political power plays, and a fitting reform of the Vatican would be to walk away from it.”
Would that such advice was followed before hundreds of accused priests were thrown under the bus and out of the priesthood. Would that such advice was followed before the extent of United Nations hypocrisy was bared for all to see. Is reform of the U.N. on the horizon? The evidence does not indicate that it is. The United Nations now needs a High Commissioner of Hypocrisy.
Let’s not help the news media keep the U.N.’s secrets. Share this post, please. After all the United Nations’ agenda-driven scapegoating of the Catholic Church, the question and the truth have both come home to roost: “Who can trust an institution that covers up the sexual abuse of minors?”
Editor’s Note: In 2015, we’ll need to replace our aging publishing equipment. In your kindness, please take a moment to read the details and share the link on your social media accounts. Thank you for such a strong kickoff!