Joaquin Navarro-VallsThe press secretary of
John Paul II Joaquin Navarro-Valls, has strongly criticised critics of Benedict
XVI in Italy’s left-wing newspaper La Repubblica. Here is an edited version taken
from Edward Pentin’s blog at the National Catholic Register.


Certainly, in Austria, Germany and Ireland, but no less in almost all countries
where there is a consistent presence of Church schools and educational
organizations, there has been the grave criminal phenomenon of violations of
the dignity of childhood. That has been noted. Not by chance, during the Via
Crucis of 2005, did the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger not mince his words when
he noted with disappointment: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even
among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much
pride, how much self-complacency!” Perhaps we have forgotten it. But you can
without fear of contradiction point out that the problem exists in the Church,
is known by the Church, and has been addressed and will be further addressed in
future decisions by the Church.

But
let’s try, for a moment, to reflect on the manifestation of pedophilia in
itself. From my experience as a doctor I can highlight some important data
useful to understanding the seriousness and the extent of the problem. The most
reliable statistics speak for themselves. It’s certified that 1 in 3 girls have
been sexually abused, and that 1 in 5 boys has been subjected to acts of
violence. The truly alarming fact has been disclosed not only in scientific
publications but even CNN reports that the percentage of respondents, in a
representative sample of the population, has sexually molested a child ranges
from 1% to 5%. That is a frightening number. 

The
acts of pedophilia are perpetrated by parents or close relatives. Brothers,
sisters, mothers, uncles or babysitters are the most common abusers of
children. According to the U.S. Justice Department, almost all accused
pedophiles, 90 percent, are male. According to Diana Russell, 90% of sexual
abuse is committed by people with direct knowledge of the young victims, and
remain closed in the familiar ‘conspiracy of silence’. A notable aspect,
unfortunately, is that 60% of the cases of violence affected people younger
than 12 years, and in most cases abusers are males with blood ties.

These
statistics show, therefore, a clear and fairly broad practice of sexual
violence against children. Taking into account that these figures refer only to
those that have been reported, are known or otherwise known, we can easily
imagine the dramatic degree of perversion that lurks behind this reality, most
common in countries whose cultures do not consider this violence to be an
aberrant obscenity. Now, focusing exclusively on those abusers and singling out
one group, such as priests, can be very misleading. In this case, the
percentage has fallen to become a minimal phenomenon, statistically. Certainly,
nothing can take away the emotion and shame that comes from these recent
revelations in the Church, even when they refer to events that took place
decades ago and perhaps covered by the most grave ‘conspiracies of silence’. We
can be certain, beginning with the pastoral letter to Ireland last week, that
Benedict XVI will take all measures that are needed to expel the guilty and
judge them, based on real crimes committed by those involved…

Which
country has made an in-depth study of this grievous phenomenon, also taking
clear and explicit preventive measures against the abuses of pedophilia among
its citizens, in families or in public schools? What other religion has moved
to find, publicly condemn and assume the problem, bringing it to light and
explicitly pursuing it? We avoid, first of all, being insincere: namely to
focus on the limited number of established cases of pedophilia in the Catholic
Church, but without opening our eyes to the tragedy of a childhood violated and
abused very often and everywhere, yet without scandal.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.