Saturday, September 02, 2006

Catholic Church and Victims of Sexual Predators

Two recent stories concerned the Catholic Church’s response to children abused sexually by adults. The first case arose in the United States.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has agreed to pay more than $16 million to settle sexual abuse claims involving 10 victims in California and two priests, one transferred there by the archdiocese, church officials said Friday. Half the settlement will come from insurance, the archdiocese said. The deal was reached after two days of court-ordered mediation. The Milwaukee Archdiocese had transferred Rev. Siegfried Widera to California in 1981, knowing the priest had a history of abuse.

"Our hope, always, is to continue our progress in reaching resolution with anyone who was a victim of clergy sexual abuse," Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in a statement. "We believe this agreement brings closure to all cases in California and, hopefully, provides healing for victims/survivors."

The second case is in South America. It involves an 11 year girl, abuse sexually by her stepfather from the age of seven.

A Vatican official has said the Catholic church will excommunicate a medical team who performed Colombia's first legal abortion on an 11-year-old girl, who was eight weeks pregnant after being raped by her stepfather.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, said in addition to the doctors and nurses, the measure could apply to "relatives, politicians and lawmakers" whom he called "protagonists in this abominable crime."

The girl, whose identity has not been released, had "fallen in the hands of evildoers", the cardinal said in an interview with local television on Tuesday.

In May Colombia's constitutional court partially lifted the ban on abortion in this deeply Catholic country, allowing pregnancies to be terminated in cases of severe deformity of the fetus, when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when the mother's life is in danger.

The first test of the ruling came when the girl sought to terminate her pregnancy, which followed her being raped by her stepfather. The man admitted to the abuse, which began when the child was seven.

Which priest is qualified to state an 11 year old can safely deliver a full term infant? Which one thinks this young girl should have a child, the product of incest, of repeated long term sexual abuse?

Being born into a Catholic family, attending a Catholic Church didn’t protect any of these children from abuse. It even exposed some young children to sexual predators. In one case the Church tries to make amends via financial compensation, monetary reward. In the other it tries to impose eternal damnation for those who legally came to the medical aid of a young girl. Is anyone else perplexed by the church’s actions? The view from here suggests control via bribery and manipulation. What’s your take?

P.S. Colombia is touted as the new role model for South American democracies. How will the battle between the government and church work out? Might there be a little Christo-fascism in the near future?

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