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On the Holy See’s Response to the U.N.
and Tom Reese’s Response to Roman Polanski
Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
September 29, 2009
The International Humanist and Ethical Union, in a speech given at the U.N. on September 22, took the Vatican to task for its cover-up of reports of sexual abuse by clerics. Predictably the Holy See responded but the response was much less measured and more emotional than usual. Both have been widely covered by religious and secular media. After reading both statements, it’s clear that the IHEU was dead on target and the Holy See was delusional as usual.
The author of the Holy See’s response was Archbishop Silvio Tommasi, listed in the media as the Permanent Observer to the Holy See. According to the Vatican’s official list of prelates, the Annuario Pontificio, Tommasi is actually not the Vatican ambassador to the Holy See. He holds the curious title of being Papal Nuncio to Nowhere which means he’s sort of an official Vatican floater. No matter. He made the statement and he said dumb things which is pretty much what one expects from any official Church source when it tries to wriggle out of any responsibility for the nightmare that won’t go away. All of his defenses are the usual knee-jerk, minimizing bromides that no thinking person believes. The amazing thing is that the Holy See still seems to think that these excuses hold water. They would actually be better off saying nothing than saying something stupid.
I must admit that I was both surprised and disappointed at Tom Reese’s column in the Washington Post. He said some of the “right” things but missed an essential point. Roman Polanski and priests who rape children are far from analogous. Roman Polanski was a Hollywood director, not a Roman Catholic priest. He didn’t hold a position of immense trust nor did he come from an “industry” that preached chastity, purity and a sky-high standard of sexual morality. But even more important, Roman did not have an archbishop or a cardinal in his corner who would lie about what he had done, intimidate his victims and then send him off where he could find yet more young people to devastate.
The movie industry never tried to present a systematized illusion that all of its directors, producers and agents…to name a few…were paragons of virtue. That’s what the official Catholic Church has done and that’s a major difference between Roman Polanski and the priests. Any attempt at defending accused clerics that comes forth from the institutional Church comes with an immediate lack of credibility simply because of the abominable track record of the Church at every level of authority. The pity-party for priests is baseless when one recalls that in the past quarter century no Diocesan Priests’ Council, no unofficial gathering of priests in fact no clergy organization of any kind ever said one word of public support for the innocent and trusting people who have been ripped apart by sexual and spiritual abuse.