Friday, February 7, 2014


The UN has made a scathing report on the handling and "responsibility" of the Vatican in cases of child molestation by priests.  I thought that the critique got a free ride and I fail to see why Church doctrine has become part of a global assessment. The abuses are inexcusable but the comments 
went too far, not taking into account the greater transparency which was started under Pope Benedict XVI. The spooky tale reminded me of Gide's heading Les caves du Vatican.

I myself am a non-believer but I know enough clergy with integrity and nobody should lapse into overdrive or generalizations.  Besides, I sense there is a "bias" which exists in the UN (General Assembly, Human Rights Council and "machinery") which indulges in indignation a la carte. The rule of the "outlaw" often prevails and the eventual "added value" of checks and balances gets lost in votes where the bad often beats the better. 

Contrary to the  automatic finger pointing at the ''usual suspects'', the marginalization of the Buddhists in Tibet is almost off limits.  The general mutilation of women and persecution of creeds other than Islam in most parts of the Arab world are hardly part of the "conversation".  Western democracies are not above reproach, preferring the pursuit of Realpolitik and business rather than to risk being accused of staying on a warpath against "emerging" economies or rogue states.

The above considerations diminish in no way the gravity of the large scale abuses and cover up under the previously not too watchful eyes of the Vatican. The main difference with other cases of gross inequality is that the abuse by clergy is linked to individual depravity and is not part of a systemic construction. We are still miles away from a codified, generalized practice of impunity.

Measure is a good antidote for demagogy. The UN is right to deplore indefensible situations but it better abstain from being a policeman where it is easy and to close the eyes where it might become politically "delicate".  It will be interesting to hear some indignation regarding sex tourism in Asia or the fundamentalist "version" of women and others rights (pluralism) for gays in the Arab "make-believe wastelands", and elsewhere!

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