The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its
paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was “busy cleaning its
own house” and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other
churches were as big, if not bigger.
In a defiant and
provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human
rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic
clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals
attracted to sex with adolescent males.
The statement, read out
by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the
UN, defended its record by claiming that “available research” showed
that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper
to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations
were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was
He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be
committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or
neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual
molestation of other children.
This was an argument that got made a lot when I was first covering this stuff after it broke in 2002-2003. And it was a very effective argument in that it shifted the focus from the cover-up back to the crime. Priests abusing children was not the scandal. Bishops conspiring to conceal the sexual abuse of children was the scandal.