Włodzimierz Rędzioch

In Vatican, at the end of a meeting on protection of the under-aged in Church, on 24 February 2019, after the Holy Mass celebrated in the Royal Hall of the Apostolic Palace, pope Francis gave an important speech. He spoke about pedophilia in Church, but he suggested that on the world scale sexual abuses of priests are something marginal. He emphasized: ‘Plague of sexual abuses towards the under-aged is, unfortunately, a historically widespread phenomenon in cultures and societies. Only recently has it become the subject of systematic actions, thanks to the change of sensitivity of the public opinion to the problem in the past considered as taboo – that is, everyone knew about its existence, but nobody spoke about it. It brings a thought to my mind about a cruel religious practice widespread in some cultures in the past, in order to immolate people – often children – as the victims in pagan rites. Pope also noted that available statistics on sexual abuses towards the under-aged are incomplete and do not show a real scale of the phenomenon, as ‘ a lot of cases of sexual abuse towards the under-aged are not reported on, particularly the ones committed in families’. According to available data, those who commit the abuse, that is, physical, sexual and psychical violence, are not priests but ‘parents, relatives, husbands of very young wifes, trainers and educators’.

In order to prove it, Francis gave data of the UNICEF from 2017 concerning 28 countries: among 10 girls who were forced to sexual intercourse, 9 fell a victim to somebody they knew or a relative. He also reminded about official data of the government of the United States where every year over 700 thousand children fall victims to violence or sexual abuse, and 1 child per 10 is sexually abused. Pope added that the situation in Europe is much worse as even 18 million children are victims of sexual abuse, and the example of Italy makes us realize the fact that nearly 70 percent of cases of sexual abuse take place at home of an under-aged person.

Włodzimierz Rędzioch talks to Fr. Fortunato Di Noto – a chief of Meter Association who has been fighting with sexual abuse towards children and pedopornogrpahy for 30 years

WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - How could Priest comment on the data about abuses towards the under-aged quoted by Francis?

FR. FORTUNATO DI NOTO: The data presented by Pope – even if they are not complete – are terrifying. But Francis says something which not everyone wants to listen to, that is, that the phenomenon of violence towards children, including sexual abuse, is a global phenomenon and concerns also Church as such, because of a few priests who betrayed their mission.

In the United States there was a scandal of abuses. Influential media and attorneys started a powerful attack on Church which made cashboxes in many American dioceses empty. But Pope reminds us that in this country there are hundred thousands of children sexually abused every year about whom nobody speaks…

I would like to explain one thing: reports prepared in various countries concern cases from 20, 30, 40 or even 70 years before. We speak about the times when in the society there were not enough sensitivity to issues of the under-aged and children’s rights. Today the social context is very differentiated: we are sensitive to children’s rights and we have provisions which are often very strict, against all kinds of bullying them and maltreating them. We should also remember that a definite majority of registered cases concern abuses among priests towards young men – these are not cases or real pedophilia but homosexuality – homosexual priests who had sexual contacts with young boys over the age of 14. Not all homosexuals are pedophiles.

When there was a summit meeting about pedophilia in Rome, we saw well organized groups of people around Vatican, alleged victims of priests who were accompanied by journalists and camera operators. But, as Francis emphasized, only in Europe 18 million children are the victims of sexual abuse among whom a definite majority ( in Italy 68.9 percent of cases) are the victims of rape and violence at their homes. So, I wonder why my colleagues-journalists are not looking for or are not presenting dramatic stories of million children abused by non-priests…

I also wonder on it, especially that every child is the target of oppressors which proves that in Europe there are millions of people on the run abusing children – people who are not searched for or condemned by anybody. There are only a few of them who are arrested as in practice there are no complaints.

So, if a case concerns a priest, at once medial machine is started, there are court trials, claims for damages, verdicts of imprisonment….

Besides that, letters of priests who supposedly committed abuses are published. Has anybody seen a list of pedophiles who are not priests? A list of politicians, teachers, trainers, doctors who are pedophiles? No, so, we are dealing with a clear persecution of priests. We, as the Meter Association, began to celebrate a Remembrance Day of Abuse, Violence and Indifference Victims on the first Sunday of May. Why aren’t the society, media and organizations dealing with maltreating children taking part in celebration of this day which is to make everybody sensitive to this terrible phenomenon, but on the global scale? So, I wonder where journalists are, who were in Vatican and who seemed so sensitive to sexual abuse of children.

Pope also noted another phenomenon – sexual tourism. He informed that according to the data of the World Organization of Tourism, in 2017 in the whole world 3 million people set off for a journey in order to have sex with the under-aged. 3 million ‘predators’ who are travelling across Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe in order to abuse children sexually….Isn’t anybody interested in it?

I think that it is possible to enumerate more of them. However, the problem is different: what actions were taken by police in order to put the end to sexual tourism? Nearly none.

But thanks to Internet a pedophile does not have to travel, as at home he has got children pornography which he wants. Francis said about this plague: ‘According to the investigations on sexual abuse towards the under-aged carried out in the recent years, development of Internet web and media increased the number of sexual abuses and on-line violence. Pornography is spreading all over the world quickly via Internet. The plague of pornography has taken on terrifying forms, resulting in a harmful influence on psyche and relations between men and women. This phenomenon is still growing. Unfortunately, the subject of pornographic production are the under-aged who are hurt seriously in their dignity in this way. Investigations in this area – which is sad – prove that it is happening in a more cruel way. There are extreme acts of abusing the under-aged, ordered and watched live via Internet’. How did Priest understand Pope’s words?

One thing should be explained: pornography is legal all over the world – this is a giant business on the world scale, the second after weapon trade, more powerful than drugs. For us, the Catholics, using pornographic materials is a sin, but this is a different dimension of the issue. However, pornography is such a powerful business that it has become legal, companies which produce pornographic materials are registered on the market and watching pornographic materials is not a crime. There is also pornography of the under-aged concerning teenagers aged 14 to 18 – so under this age we are dealing with children pornography, that is, pedopornography. In some countries pornography of the under-aged and children pornography are considered as a crime. But at present there are 35 countries all over the world where there are no acts against pedopornogrpahy, whereas 78 countries have not defined the age yet, at which children can give their permission to sexual intercourse. In a situation in which there is no unanimous attitude to the problem, one cannot decide that pedophilia and children pornography are crime against humankind. Not everyone agrees with it.

Where there is big money, there are always criminal organizations…

This is so in the case of pedopornography branch, which is induced by criminal organizations.

Some groups which are attacking Church for abusing children by priests, are also promoting the gender ideology and sexual education of children which means premature sexual initiation and promiscuity. How credible are accusers of clergy, when promoting sexual promiscuity and fight against taboo in sexual practices?

When our attitude to the problem of abusing children is instrumental, the alleged fight with such abuses is becoming an ideological fight, pursued at the cost of victims. This is an absurd situation when somebody is fighting against abuses and is also tolerating the ideology of pedophiles, which justifies relations with the under-aged and promotes ‘free’, ‘out-of-age’ love. It suggests that Church is being attacked in order to mislead people in their thinking.

In Poland a film is being made about pedophilia among the Polish clergy – a real ideological attack on Church about which Priest mentioned. If somebody wanted to make an honest film showing what is pedophilia in fact in our times, what should he do?

Such a director should come to me, that is, somebody who has been fighting with pedophilia and pedopornography for 30 years. I will tell you a story. In 2001 a few journalists of the American magazine ‘Newsweek’ phoned me with accusations that I had exaggerated by condemning this phenomenon which is not so terrible. I invited them. They arrived and spent 4 days with me. I showed them what we were doing: ‘we are catching’ terrible photos and films with participation of children – sometimes babies – which we are showing to post office police and we are investigating dangerous spreading pedophilic ideology. After that experience the journalists understood that I did not exaggerate and changed their way of looking at the phenomenon of pedophilia; they wrote an honest text which unmasked its real image and which was advertised on the ‘Newsweek’ cover.

It suggests that journalists and film-makers who see abuse of children only in Church must be advised to come to Priest for reliable information.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 11/2019 (17 III 2019)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl