From today's Independent;
Pope Benedict XVI is looking into organising a private meeting with victims of clerical abuse during his upcoming state visit to Britain later this summer.
Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and leader of Catholics in England and Wales, said today that “careful consideration” was being made by the Vatican into holding some sort of private meeting during his four day visit.
Archbishop Nichols was keen to emphasise that any decision over meeting abuse survivors would not be made to assuage the media or the church’s critics.
“There will be, as you have seen in previous visits, careful consideration given to whether it is appropriate for the Pope to privately meet with people who have suffered abuse,” he said. “It’s very important that, if such a visit was to take place, it is not seen as a way to use those who have suffered – whose pain is intense and continuing – to satisfy some kind of public agenda or public curiosity. Nobody should be pressing the pope to meet victims of abuse in order to get a good photograph.”
That last sentence smacks of the most brazen and insensitive hypocrisy.
Given that the Catholic Church, right up to the Pope himself, has been involved in the deliberate cover-up of these abuses precisely to prevent bad publicity, it is cynical at best to suggest that it is critics who are after "a good photograph."
That aside, as I've argued before, there should be no question of Joseph Ratzinger even of coming to Britain, let alone meeting the victims of his priests. Especially at our expense.
If Ratzinger wants to meet the victims of abuse conducted by his priests and deliberately covered up by him for "the good of the Universal Church," then should only be allowed to do so at the Hague, wearing shackles.
To repeat myself;
As Geoffrey Robertson argued in the Guardian, this is a case for "international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity." The case must be made that "acts causing harm to mental or physical health, committed against civilians on a widespread or systematic scale, if condoned by a government or a de facto authority" are crimes against humanity. On those grounds, Joseph Ratzzinger must be arrested.