Perhaps as a sign of the repugnancy of the behavior of the Vatican in shielding child abusing priests, two birds, a seagull and a crow, attacked two white doves, supposedly symbols of peace, that were sent fluttering into the air by children flanking Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, as tens of thousands of people watched.
The UN watchdog for children's rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), has denounced the Vatican for its policies which allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children.
The CRC urged the Vatican to open its files on child abusers within its ranks so that they could be held accountable by local authorities.
In its report, The CRC also criticized the Vatican's hostile attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion, while essentially accusing the Vatican of tolerating and promoting pedophilia through the "practice of offenders' mobility," which refers to the practice of transferring child abusers from parish to parish within countries, and abroad, to avoid prosecution, while not removing them from contact with vulnerable children.
Although the Vatican has denied any official cover-up, it has refused UN requests for data on abuse, arguing that it only releases such information if it requested as part of legal proceedings.
And a spokesman for the Vatican responded to the CRC report by accusing the UN of intervening in the Vatican's doctrinal practice.
The selection of Pope Francis from Argentina to head the Papacy last March has been heralded as a revitalization of the Catholic Church.
But his selection also showed the severe crisis in the church, which for the first time in hundreds of years chose a pope from the periphery of the Vatican's empire.
It is always a sign of decline when an empire chooses leadership from its social or geographic periphery.
To Pope Francis' credit he created a Vatican commission in December to investigate all cases of child sexual abuse "as well as the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them."
But according to Barbara Blaine, who represents victims of abuse in the United States, despite all the rhetoric from Pope Francis and Vatican officials, nothing has changed.
The recent case of a senior Vatican diplomat, a Polish archbishop, accused of sexual abuse of children in the Dominican Republic, who was suddenly recalled to Rome, seems to bear this out as the Vatican has refused an extradition request by Polish authorities, hiding behind an internal investigation it claims it is conducting
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