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I have a new hero in Ireland. Her name is Emma Somers. She is a free-lance writer and she has come up with the most elegant and simple way to reply to Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Irish people regarding the sex crisis in the Catholic Church. We are all going to drop him a line, compose a letter, fire off an email, send an epistle, you choose the form it takes as long as the message is sent. I know this is starting as an Irish initiative, but I would like to see a more international effort  supporting Emma’s campaign.  This is a show of support for Ireland’s concerned movers and shakers who are done with the abuse committed by clergy and covered up and denied by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  This is a show of support for survivors worldwide. This is a pontifical “WAKE-UP” call to the Holy See.

Emma’s WordPress Blog is called “Dear Mr. Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland“.  The rules are simple (I hope she forgives me for cutting and pasting):

No 1: Read the pope’s letter

Please do not post a response unless you have read the pastoral letter from the pope — or at least the parts directed at you (eg victims, young people, parents, etc). It is posted here.

No 2: Write your reply

It may be one line, it may match the pope’s 4,000 words — either way, you can get your message across. Feel free to borrow from other letters here if you have trouble articulating your feelings.

No 3: Share your reply

If you are comfortable sharing all or part of your reply, please post it as a comment on “Dear Mr. Ratzinger“. Your letter may inspire others to put pen to paper.

No 4: Post  your reply on Saturday 15th May 2010

 
This is the most important part. DO NOT FORGET TO POST OR EMAIL YOUR LETTER! For the biggest impact, we will send our letters on the same day and show the Vatican Ireland cares about victims of clerical child abuse.

Note: (For you Americans out there, Post=Mail, find a stamp and mail the thing)

Participants are invited to meet at the GPO on O’Connell Street, Dublin, at 2pm on Saturday 15th May to post our letters as a group. (If you would like to be sent a reminder for this, please email dearmrratzinger@gmail.com with ‘Reminder GPO’ in the subject line. Your email will not be passed on or used for any other purposes.)

If you can’t make it to the GPO, all you need to do is post or email your letter before 5pm on Saturday 15th May. (Again, for a reminder, please email dearmrratzinger@gmail.com with the word ‘Reminder’ in the subject line.)

Address for letters: Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Palace, 00120 Vatican City
-or-
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano

Address for emails: benedictxvi@vatican.va

No 5: Spread the word

Please pass “Dear Mr. Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland” on to anyone you know who might be interested in having their voice heard or help friends and family who are not online to get involved in the campaign.

Consider this “Spreading the Word”!  I need a Canadian and an Australian to get the word out in your neck of the woods. 

For those of us that can’t make it to the GPO in Dublin on the 15th because of lack of funding, expired passports, or Icelandic volcanos,  I recommend similar gatherings at post offices around the world.  Talk amongst yourselves and come up with an appropriate location, preferably near a mail box, post box, container approved by your local postal authority or free WiFi hotspot.   

If you are going to meet, let me know where and when and I will spread the word.

Why are you still reading this?  Go to Emma’s Blog, Dear Mister Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland, you have reading and writing to do.

The UN Human Rights Council has recently released a report on the failure of the Holy See, to adequately take action to protect children.  Add the following report to the list of organizations that see the Catholic church not only as a failure in protecting children but as a willing conspirator to downplay the size of the sex scandal in the church and marginalize the damage caused to victims by pedophiles in the ranks of the clergy.  (A copy of the report is available from the International Humanist and Ethical Union website.)

The text of the report reads as follows:

International Humanist and Ethical Union

 UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 12th Session (14 Sept – 2 October 2009)
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Keith Porteous-Wood: Tuesday 22 September 2009
Agenda Item 4: Matters requiring the attention of the Council

Child Abuse and the Holy See

In 1990 the Holy See acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It submitted its first and only report in 1994 – about which CRC expressed several areas of concern.[1] But since then – nothing.[2]

The extent of child abuse within the Catholic Church is well known. What we are addressing here, however, is the reaction of the Church authorities over which the Holy See exerts control.

  • Victims have been accused of lying, even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.
  • The Church has covered up allegations, and generally failed to inform the civil authorities, even when obliged to do so. Moreover, dioceses have frequently moved alleged abusers from one location to another, resulting in repetition of the abuse.[3]
  • Clerics implicated in concealment have been permitted to remain in office, such as Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston[4] who still enjoys papal support as archpriest of a papal basilica in Rome, and is still a cardinal.
  • The Church has argued that the problem was minor, [that it did not know the true extent of the problem, or was ignorant of the nature of child abusers or of their recidivist tendencies] yet the scale of the problem has been known to the Church since at least the 1980s.[5]
  • Every possible step has been taken by the Church to minimise both criminal sanctions and the amount of compensation it paid.
  • [“Gagging” clauses are routinely imposed as part of the settlement of cases.[6]]

[Mr President, the Holy See has been complicit in widespread attempts to cover up cases of alleged child abuse perpetrated by members of its clergy and religious orders,[7] apologies are rare, and a general admission of the Church’s culpability has yet to be seen.]

We urge the Holy See to recognise its responsibilities to children and the CRC, to bring its reporting up to date, and to instruct its dioceses and religious orders to report all cases of alleged child abuse to the civil authorities. We suggest that as an institution that claims to have “the highest moral authority”, it can do no less.

And we urge the international community to hold the Holy See to account.

Thank you sir.

1 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6aec910.pdf
2 http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/other/documents/2002rightsofthechildshadowreport.pdf
3 example: Diocese of Dallas: http://www.richardsipe.com/reports/sipe_report.htm#DIOCESE%20OF%20DALLAS
4 http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/01847611.htm
5 example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2548081.stmalthough it has treatment centres for child-abusing priests (Richard Sipe at http://www.richardsipe.com/reports/sipe_report.htm #FOURTH%20PHASE
6 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6354966.ece
7 http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/pdfs/CICA-Executive%20Summary.pdf

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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