Archbishop Silvano Tomasi: “We are committed to holding inviolable the dignity … of every child”
The Vatican has been confronted publicly for the first time over the sexual abuse of children by clergy, at a UN hearing in Geneva.
Officials faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they would not release data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.
They insisted the Church had learnt from the crisis and had taken action to prevent future abuse.
Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.
Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.
The Holy See gets it that there are things that need to be done differently”
Bishop Charles SciclunaMember of Vatican delegation at hearing
The Vatican came to Geneva expecting a rough ride and it got one, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reports.
Victims say they hope the hearing, which is being broadcast live, will prompt the Church to end its “secrecy”.
Pope Francis announced last month that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church.
The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.
Teodoro Pulvirenti, who was abused as a teenager by an Italian priest: “It’s time for the church to stop the secrecy”
It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child sex abuse in Europe and beyond.
In a homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said abuse scandals were “the shame of the Church”.
‘Not very transparent'”The view of committee is that the best way to prevent abuses is to reveal old ones – openness instead of sweeping offences under the carpet,” Kirsten Sandberg, chairwoman of the 18-strong CRC, told the Vatican delegation.
“It seems to date your procedures are not very transparent.”
The Vatican was asked why it continued to describe abuse as an offence against morals rather than a crime against children.
Catholic Church abuse scandals
- Germany – A priest, named only as Andreas L, admitted in 2012 to 280 counts of sexual abuse involving three boys over a decade
- United States – Revelations about abuses in the 1990s by two Boston priests, Paul Shanley and John Geoghan, caused public outrage
- Belgium – The bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April 2010 after admitting that he had sexually abused a boy for years
- Italy – The Catholic Church in Italy admitted in 2010 that about 100 cases of paedophile priests had been reported over 10 years
- Ireland – A report in 2009 found that sexual and psychological abuse was “endemic” in Catholic-run industrial schools and orphanages for most of the 20th century
“Does the Holy See believe that paedophilia is something that can be successfully overcome?” was another question.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said: “To prevent abuse of minors is a real, immediate concern.”
On prosecution of offenders, he said priests were “not functionaries of the Vatican but citizens of their countries and fall under the jurisdiction of their own countries”.
When asked if the Vatican would hand over Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, a Polish papal envoy recalled from the Dominican Republic in September amid claims of sexual abuse there, Archbishop Tomasi said he was being investigated by the Vatican’s own prosecutors.
A member of the CRC asked about the Church’s practice of moving priests suspected of abuse.
“It is a no-go simply to move people from one diocese to another,” said Bishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former chief prosecutor of clerical sexual abuse.
He insisted it was “not the policy of the Holy See to encourage cover-ups” but added: “The Holy See gets it that there are things that need to be done differently.”
‘Refused to answer’While Thursday’s questions were numerous and far-ranging, some observers vented frustration at the lack of specific answers.
Dr Austen Ivereigh, Catholic commentator: ‘[Catholic Church’s] measures… among best in world’
“Holy See: ‘We get it’ in UN review on child sexual abuse Catholic Church,” wrote the children’s rights watchdog CRIN in a tweet. “Do you? Why then don’t you make statistics public?”
Barbara Blaine, president of a group representing US victims of abuse by priests, told BBC News that the hearing had brought “hope to victims across the globe”.
But it would also stand, she said, as a “record of how the Church officials refused to answer the questions, how they claim to be open and transparent, and yet they don’t live up to that ideal”.
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The Huffington Post | By Nick WingPosted: 01/03/2014 4:33 pm EST | Updated: 01/03/2014 4:47 pm EST
With all the buzz about David Brooks of the New York Times and Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post reflecting on their marijuana use decades ago — and coming to the shared conclusion that the substance should remain illegal — it’s worth remembering that pundits for large daily newspapers make up a very tiny percentage of those that have opinions on pot. Here’s what Carl Sagan had to say about smoking weed.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in May 2013.
Carl Sagan, a titan of scientific study and communication, died in 1996, leaving behind an expansive legacy of research and education. He assumed a diverse set of roles throughout his life, including as a longtime casual user of and advocate for marijuana.
Sagan’s involvement with pot began as a secret, when he penned an essay in 1969, at the age of 35, under the pseudonym “Mr. X.” The piece, in which Sagan described the benefits he felt from using marijuana, later appeared in Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s 1971 book, “Marihuana Reconsidered.” Sagan’s identity as the author wasn’t publicly disclosed until 1999, when Keay Davidson published “Carl Sagan: A Life,” which documented Sagan’s writings as his alter-ego, “Mr. X.”
Writing that he’d begun smoking intermittently around 10 years before, Sagan noted that marijuana “amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects.”
“The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before,” he wrote. “The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse.”
Sagan went on to explain in intricate detail how his experiences listening to music, eating food and even having sex were all heightened while high.
His essay also included some classic Saganesque poetry:
I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of gaussian distribution curves. It was a point obvious in a way, but rarely talked about. I drew the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics. Because of problems of space, I can’t go into the details of these essays, but from all external signs, such as public reactions and expert commentary, they seem to contain valid insights. I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books.
Sagan ultimately concluded that it was easy to use marijuana in moderation. For that reason he wrote that “the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
Years later, Sagan became more outspoken about his advocacy, arguing that medical marijuana should be legal for cancer and AIDS patients.
“Is it rational to forbid patients who are dying from taking marijuana as a palliative to permit them to gain body weight and to get some food down,” Sagan asked in an interview. “It seems madness to say, ‘We’re worried that they’re going to become addicted to marijuana’ — there’s no evidence whatever that it’s an addictive drug, but even if it were, these people are dying, what are we saving them from?”
Listen to his entire interview below:
Back in the mid-70s, we were introduced to the notion of “medical nemesis” by the Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich. He warned us that doctors may do more harm than good, and that some diseases (which he labelled iatrogenic) were caused, not cured, by medical interventions. This doctrine has been widely accepted – we all know about the dangers of overprescribing antibiotics, about the risks of over-zealous or misinterpreted scans, about the creeping medicalisation of childbirth – but its application to old age and death is what interests me here. One of Illich’s arguments in those days was that medicine, despite its apparent successes, was not notably increasing life expectancy. Alas, he was wrong. Artificially prolonged old age is the new iatrogenic malady.
We can’t switch on the news without being told we will live longer,work longer, and survive on diminishing pensions or overpriced annuities. Newspaper columnists tell us we are selfish and that the young are suffering from our claiming an unfair share of state support. They begrudge us our bus passes, one of the few well-earned consolations of age. As we move into our unwanted last decade, we will, entirely predictably, become lonelier and lonelier and more and more likely to suffer from dementia and more and more expensive to maintain.
It would be unfair to blame doctors or health professionals for our longevity, which may be attributed to causes other than surgical ingenuity and pharmacological innovations and deadly life support machines, but it is not surprising that many of us feel gravely disappointed by the help and relief on offer to us at the end of life.
We look in vain for compassion, dignity, even common sense. We look in vain, despite what we are told, for adequate pain relief. Medical professionals seem far more interested in keeping alive barely viable premature “miracle” babies with a poor long-term prognosis than in offering reassurance to the growing and ageing multitudes who long to depart peacefully. They keep the babies alive because it’s challenging, and very few people dare argue that it’s not a good thing to do. They keep us alive because they are forbidden to give us what we want and need, and they are too frightened to question the law. There’s something wrong there.
Don’t blame us if we are cluttering up the system. What we want and need is simple. We want a change in the law concerning assisted dyingand voluntary euthanasia, and help, if need be, to die with dignity.
The groundswell of opinion in favour of change is unmistakable. How often do you hear phrases like “you wouldn’t let your dog suffer like that”? Three-quarters of the population backed Lord Falconer’s assisted dying bill on its first reading in parliament. The bill would allow people who are terminally ill to receive the help they need to die, if that is what they choose. But can we have what we want? No. The politicians won’t let us, the bishops won’t let us, the health professionals aren’t allowed to let us. It’s grotesque.
Those suffering from incurable diseases need to be able to choose without penalty the help which they are at the moment denied. The elderly need to be able to plan ahead clearly, and to make their own choices about when their lives are no longer worth living. There seems to be some conspiracy to stop us thinking about the end game we all shall play. So we shuffle on, until it’s too late to make any decisions at all, and we become helpless pawns in the politics of deferral, and utterly dependent on the humiliating procedures that for all our rational life we so wished to avoid.
It is my hope that in my lifetime the law will change, taking with it the fears that add so much terror to death. How wonderful it would be, if we knew that we would not be obliged to contemplate the bodily and mental decay that threatens us all. That we could opt out, and make our quietus, not with a bare bodkin or a plastic bag, or by jumping off the top of a multistorey car park, but with a nice glass of whisky and a pleasing pill – and so good night. How the heart would lift with joy at the good news. I don’t go for Martin Amis’s suicide booths, but I’m with Will Self all the way about the right to die when and how we want. When it’s time to go, let’s just go.
At the moment, it’s not that easy. My husband, Michael Holroyd, fondly believes that as the longest serving patron of the Dignity in Dyingcampaigning organisation, he will be allowed to die in peace, but no, the doctors, in mortal fear of parliament, the law, the press and the General Medical Council, will be slavishly working to rule and obeying orders and striving officiously to keep him alive as they observe their archaic Hippocratic oath. It will be just like it was in the old days, when Simone de Beauvoir described her mother’s death, in the ironically titled A Very Easy Death. If a woman of her intellect and clout couldn’t prevent her mother from being hacked about by surgeons on her deathbed, what hope have we?
The best new year’s gift an ageing population could receive is the right to die. As the philosopher Joseph Raz argues “The right to life protects people from the time and manner of their death being determined by others, and the right to euthanasia grants each person the power to choose themselves that time and manner.” The right to die is the right to live.
Margaret Drabble is is a novelist, biographer and critic
This is from the Facebook page of someone I know personally.
This crazy bitch is extremely religious, and always has been. She is the biggest snob in the world. Turns out her daughter is gay. I know her well. Great girl! She got married last week, to another girl, and they are blissfully happy.
Her mother not so much. This is what her own mother posted on Facebook:
Dit is so bitter hartseer dat kondisionering maak dat hierdie tipe gedrag as natuurlik beskou wat nie die waarheid is nie. Hoe meer mens “aanvaar” en mooi woordjies bak, speel ons in die duiwel se hand.
Elke keer wat homoseksuele voor kinders hul soene en drukke uitdeel, verkrag hul elke kind en ander person wat daarna moet kyk.
Meneer die openbare persoon wat sing en so baie op RSG is, vertel hoe lief hy kinders het, maar verkondig andersins van die verhoog af sy homoseksualigteit????? Is dit omgee vir kinders? Om hul koppe deurmekaar te maak en te kondisioneer?
Dit is n uiters klein % van mense wat homoseksualiteit verklaar en wil uitleef, wat werklik so gebore is. Vir hul het ek baie empatie en respek as hul respek vir die Here en mense om hul het.
Vir die meerderheid ander is dit aangeleerde gedrag omdat hul iewers in die lewe gemolesteer is of verkeerde rolmodelle gehad het of gekonsidioneer is deur in die pubs rond te hand en dit te aanskou en later te dink dit is maar reg en normaal.
DIT SAL NOOIT WEES NIE.
Kom ons raak pro-adtief en aktiviste om ons geliefde kinders van hierdie wereldse leunagtige gier te vrywaar.
AKTIVIS TEEN HIERDIE VERKRAGTING VAN WAARHEID
Now how can this be? The answer is: “Religion of course!”