The associations, organizations and entities, believers and non-believers signatories below of this document,
SCANDALIZED by the plague of sexual assaults, on minors and on adults, practiced by members of the Catholic Church,
whose number and type are gradually coming to light;
DISAPPOINTED by the lack of concrete and effective measures to tackle them, which has been evident in the recent Vatican
Summit of Bishops and Cardinals (Feb, 2019), in the clamorous absence of the victims who should have been the main protagonists;
IRRITATED by the rebuffs of some leaders of the Episcopal Conferences, such as the president of the Spanish bishops,
Mr. Blázquez, who continues to say that he has no competence to fight against such a plague of crimes, apparently not even in his
INDIGNANT at the ecclesiastical policy of the omerta, namely, of the cover-up, to safeguard the good name of the institution
without caring for the harm caused to so many innocent people …
a) The coercion, assaults and crimes that so many clerics - priests, monks, bishops or cardinals - have played and continue to
practice against defenseless children, adolescents and youth, as an epidemic of crimes, contrary to Human Rights and to the
most basic values of Christianity;
b) The criminal concealment or inaction of the bishops, in their respective dioceses, in view of the size and extent of this crime;
a silence that contrasts with their loquacity against LGBTI persons, against the so-called "gender ideology", abortion, divorce,
the marriage of priests, the priesthood of women, de facto couples, equalitarian marriage, the sexual and reproductive rights of
women, ... etc. The same Vatican Summit mentioned above (February, 2019) has eluded any practical and binding measure against
sex abuse in the whole Church. In the words of one of the victims, "they have legalized before the world their intention to continue
hiding and allowing abuses in their midst",
c) The helplessness of victims of sexual aggression and their families, whose testimonies have often been ignored, silenced in
exchange for money, or described as false despite their repeated complaints,
d) The responsibility that cover these criminal practices, corresponds to the dominant theological and moral discourse in
the institutional Church, which deliberately ignores the development of the universal ethical conscience and its expression in
new codes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This explains, for example, the lamentable and offensive comment of
Pope Francis himself who, after declaring that he wants to put an end to this state of corruption in the Church, yields to
the temptation to justify the intervention of a woman in the Vatican Summit with an argument unacceptable for the modern world:
"Inviting a woman to speak is not creating the modality of an ecclesiastical feminism, because in the end "all feminism ends up
by being a machismo with skirts"; words that are only in line with the ideology of the political parties of the extreme right,like VOX
e) As a special case, because it is one of the most hushed-up crimes,and deserves the same rejection, is the rape of dozens and dozens of nuns by male clerics in different countries.
f) We finally denounce the discrimination that women are subjected to by the Catholic hierarchy, both within the Church and in society itself. They discriminate against them when they deny them the priesthood or prohibit their participation in representative bodies, excommunicate them when they abort, attack them when they protest against what the the Church calls "gender ideology", and maintain a suspicious silence in the face of so many feminicides and homophobic acts.
To understand minimally the reason for this drama, the Catholic Church must examine the causes and mechanisms that have led to this situation and not simply regret its consequences or take refuge in defensive attitudes. And, as a consequence, assume at least two major challenges previously disdained.
a) Changes in the essence of the training of the clergy. It must be recognised, as E. Drewermann points out, that one of the mechanisms that most influences the aggressive behaviour of clerics is "a sickly development of personality and sexuality, the result of an ecclesiastical education that represses feelings and emotions, preventing personal maturity." And that the cause of this profile lies "in the power mechanisms of the ecclesiastical structure, which act in an authoritarian way to maintain the power of a hierarchy that demands the submission of all Catholics; an ecclesiastical authoritarianism built on the concept of obedience, understood as an unconditional submission to superiors ".
b) Eradicate the impunity which has benefited clerics. The Church , once and for all, must assume the new paradigm of
democratic society, in which there is only one law which is equally binding on all its members, without recourse to any other
Rights or Justice than Civil Rights. Neither Canon Law nor ecclesiastical jurisdiction can substitute, let alone, defy the Rule of Law.
The sexual assaults are crimes, not just sins, for democratic society. Consequently, the Catholic Church must immediately implement
specific measures such as:
- the effective application of the principle of zero tolerance for all offenders,
- that any priest or religious, who has been condemned for abusing a minor at some time or other, be expelled from the priesthood,
and this to be equally binding on any bishop who has covered up the abuses of a priest, - the obligation to transfer to the civil courts all cases of abuse known to the dioceses and the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, - the reform of Canon Law to eliminate pontifical secrecy,
- the non-prescription of crimes of pedophilia,
- free access to the archives of the different dioceses,
And, above all, The Catholic Church must accept the criticism that comes from the victims themselves. It is to their authority that
the pope, the bishops and all the clergy must submit.
For all of which WE DEMAND
1. That all cases of sexual assault, correspondingly defined as crimes, be transferred by ecclesiastical officials, to the civil justice authorities. (the Office of the Prosecutor and the Courts);
2. That the universalized system of "Truth, Justice, Reparation and guarantees of non-repetition" be fully complied with;
3. That the Vatican accept the urgent creation of a TRUTH COMMITTEE about sexual assaults in ecclesiastical facilities, on a country by country basis, and comprised of people without ecclesiastic responsibilities or offices, and with the qualified presence of the victims of sexual assaults, so that it can carry out the corresponding investigations in order to elaborate a reliable report about the magnitude of the problem, its causes, the responsibilities contracted, the adequate measures of redress to the victims and the recommendations of the structural changes that should be implemented in the Catholic Church.
AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULTS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,
TRUTH, JUSTICE AND REDRESS
Madrid, March, 2019
Translation by Hugo Castelli Eyre
Associations that have co-signed the Declaration:
Chrétiens sans frontières Gironde
Chrétiens sans frontières Orme