The United Nations scolding the Catholic Church about the way it views and handles allegations of child abuse?
Pot, meet kettle.
The U.N. report by the committee on the Rights of the Child is a frontal attack on the Catholic Church by an organization with, to put it mildly, issues of its own.
It recounts instances in which pedophile priests engaged in sexual misconduct – most of it homosexual in nature – with children either in their care or under their influence.
The report castigates the Church’s leadership, known collectively as the Vatican, for failing to prevent abuses and for not dealing more harshly with offending priests. And it demands access to Vatican archives to try to pursue clergy who have not yet been identified and punished.
What a difference ten years makes. It was in 2004 that the United Nations was investigating another institution whose representatives were accused of widespread rape, forced prostitution and pedophilia, and which concluded, “Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and longstanding.”
The institution under investigation then was the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Congo.
And the U.N. peacekeepers’ response to the report? Intimidating the investigators for doing their job.
There could hardly be a less appropriate organization to muster outrage, especially since as recently as 2013, a human rights organization in London concluded that “sexual exploitation and abuse continue to pervade peacekeeping missions, and peace-keepers benefit from near-total impunity.”
Substitute “priest” for “peacekeeper” and you have the U.N.’s report in a nutshell.
No one denies that many bishops in the Catholic Church – particularly in the United States – turned a blind eye to charges that priests were abusing children. Nor is there any doubt that some offenders were recycled to new parishes where they continued their aberrant behavior.
Though popes beginning with Paul VI were informed of the scandal, they were slow to understand the toll it was taking on the Church’s credibility with Catholics.
It was not until Pope Benedict XVI – never known for his showmanship – visited the United States in 2008 and begged for forgiveness that the matter was addressed directly by the head of the church.
Even now, no one person can expiate the church’s guilt, nor ask often enough for clemency from its victims.
Still, the United Nations lecturing the Catholic Church on permitting sexual abuse within its ranks is the equivalent of Kim Jong-Un giving a speech about the importance of family or offering tips on the best treats to feed to your dog.
By the time U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon finally made time to visit the Congo and meet with victims of his peacekeepers’ lust, he was so moved that he said: “We view this as something very serious that can impede our ability to accomplish our mandate.” Oh, the humanity of the man!
Then, to show he meant business, Ban referred the matter to a committee.
As for opening its own files to see if any guilty parties from its peacekeeping operations have escaped the long arm of justice, the United Nations relies on its status as an extra-territorial organization, beholden to no national government. So much for transparency.
Pope Francis, currently the darling of that rare breed of liberals who have religious sympathies, will have to decide how to respond to the strident U.N. report. So far, he has managed to charm almost everyone, except rich people, with his genuine humility and his misguided condemnation of wealth.
Francis would be well advised that Catholic Church haters, including the U.N.’s hypocritically named panel on children’s rights, will never be satisfied. Not even all the money the pope would like to share with the poor would be enough to satiate their lust for vengeance.
John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Vatican correspondent and Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books, including "Pope John Paul II : Biography."