When Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope, many thought that this would usher in a new era of openness, hope and engagement on the part of the Vatican.

The Pope’s public statements sought to give an impression that things would change for the better, including in the area of responses to child abuse by priests. So eagerly were these statements welcomed, that Time Magazine even named him Person Of The Year.

Unfortunately, when the time came to move beyond soothing platitudes, and to clear, decisive and positive action, the Vatican appears to have been found completely wanting. “Business as usual” is the order of the day.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) condemns the Vatican’s largely negative response to a written request for information by the head of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Justice Peter McClellan. The Royal Commission was asking for any information or documents to assist it to determine how the Australian arm of the Church, in conjunction with the Vatican, responded to abuse allegations.

“We can only conclude that the encouraging words of Pope Francis have been shown to be completely hollow” said Michael Boyd, AFA President. “The Vatican declare that they maintain the confidentiality of internal deliberations and documents. However, they have refused to provide anything in response to the Royal Commission’s latest request."

“Effectively, they have self-declared that every single piece of information falls under this, again putting themselves above Australian law and thumbing their collective noses at abuse survivors in Australia. And as abuse survivors in Ireland will know, this isn’t the first time – a similar response was given to their abuse inquiry."

“Different Pope, same Vatican.”

The AFA calls on the Australian Government to make strong and appropriate diplomatic representations on behalf of the Royal Commission and Australian victims of Catholic child abuse, and to reconsider diplomatic ties with the Vatican if no satisfactory response is received.

After all, if the Vatican wants to behave like a rogue state in this matter, it should not be surprised if it is treated like one.

Michael Boyd

Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595

Phone: (08) 8835 2269
Email: [email protected]

By 2820801482