In February of last year, newspapers around the world were awash with coverage of the UN's condemnation of the Vatican for what was described as a systemic failure in regards to its handling of cases of clerical sex abuse in the Catholic Church. A report published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child alleged that:
... the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.
While understandably displeased by the unnecessary political interference, the Holy See acknowledged the UN report and vowed to improve it's handling of cases involving charges of clerical sex abuse. And while the concrete application of the Vatican's 'zero-tolerance' policy has been somewhat spotty - contrast the case of Bishop Robert Finn with that of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid - awareness of the problem has permeated the Church at all levels - a key component in the plan to eradicate such abuse.
The 2014 UN report was also seen as a welcome opportunity to ramp up criticism of the Church by various self-proclaimed watchdog groups, such the Center for Constitutional Rights, whose senior staff attorney, Katherine Gallagher, opined:
The whole world will be watching to ensure that the Vatican takes the concrete steps required by the UN to protect children and end these crimes. Impunity and cover-up, including at the highest levels of the church, will not be tolerated.
Catholics were assured that such thinly-veiled threats were motivated by honest concern for the welfare of children, and had nothing at all to do with anti-Catholic bias. One has to question the sincerity of such assurances, however, given the relative silence surrounding a recent event which should have stirred up a media frenzy: the hushed release of a 32-page document detailing the extent of appalling sexual abuse perpetrated by United Nations personnel around the world.
The document, released last month, reports that, in 2014 alone, nearly 80 cases of rape, sexual assault and sex trafficking were alleged to have been committed by UN staff and soldiers deployed in missions around the world, predominantly in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The report also provides shocking information regarding past offences: in the period between 2010 and 2013, there were 43 confirmed cases of sexual abuse - typically rape - 27 of which involved children, and 44 confirmed cases of sexual exploitation, of which 7 involved minors. In addition, there were 26 paternity claims, i.e. 26 children who were born as a result of sexual abuse and/or exploitation by UN personnel.
What's worse, this problem has been known to exist for years. A 2008 report published by Save the Children UK explains how UN peacekeepers and "humanitarian" NGOs around the world use the promise of food, money and other non-monetary items or services to pressure desperate children into performing sexual acts. A 15-year-old girl from Haiti gives the following shocking testimony:
My friends and I were walking by the National Palace one evening when we encountered a couple of humanitarian men. The men called us over and showed us their penises. They offered us 100 Haitian gourdes (US $2.50) and some chocolate if we would [perform oral sex on] them. I said no, but some of the girls did it and got the money.
The report, entitled No One to Turn To: The Under-Reporting of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Aid Workers and Peacekeepers, presents a veritable litany of sexual abuse suffered by children and young adults at the hands of so-called "humanitarian peacekeepers," including:
- trading sex for food and/or services
- forced sex / rape
- verbal sexual abuse
- child prostitution
- child pornography
- sex slavery
- indecent sexual assault
- child trafficking linked with commercial sexual exploitation
|The overwhelming majority of cases of|
sex with minors involve staff of the UN
Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Thus, the very organization which assumed for itself the moral authority to castigate the Catholic Church over a failure to respond properly to sex abuse is itself infested with sexual predators of the worst kind. As sad as that is, I am not surprised.
Yet, where is the hue and cry over the suffering of these children? Where are the Katherine Gallaghers of the world promising that we will not rest until the UN undertakes more decisive action to prevent future cases of abuse as well as to punish the perpetrators? The authors of the recent UN report are to be lauded for proposing that UN soldiers be subject to court-martial in the countries where they commit their crimes, but where is the public outcry at the current policy of the UN, which is to quietly send such soldiers back to their home countries?
Though we can expect little in the way of coverage of this human tragedy in the mainstream media, we can and should, as Catholics, do our part to help make it known.
|UN Aid Worker and Haitian Child|