Church Defended in Wake of Europarliament Vote

Fides Director Says Motion Aims to Undercut Works

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ROME, APR. 8, 2001 ( The director of the Vatican missionary agency Fides accused political forces of the European Parliament of «throwing mud on the Church´s witness in the Third World.»

Father Bernardo Cervellera spoke out in reaction to last Thursday´s vote, with which leftist and liberal forces in the chamber approved a motion against the Vatican, blaming it for the cases of sexual abuse by priests committed against nuns in Africa in the 1990s.

The proposal was approved 65-49. Those voting in favor of a condemnation of the Vatican were the European Socialist Party, the Green Group, the European Unitary Left, and the Liberal Democratic European Group.

Speaking to the Italian agency SIR, Father Cervellera rejected the accusation that the Church failed to react to cases of abuse.

«The major superiors [of religious congregations] who wrote the original dossier were extremely aware of the gravity of the facts,» he said. «However, what some regard as slowness on the part of the Church, was a process to attempt to understand well what happened, and try to help the people involved.»

«For 2000 years the Church has struggled in favor of woman´s dignity,» he added. «The European political forces that voted in favor [of the motion] have not understood that the problem is due especially to some cultural characteristics still present in some situations in the world.»

«The European Left´s attempt to criticize the Vatican reminds me of the campaign launched by various NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] to oust the Vatican from the U.N.,» Father Cervellera continued.

«Interestingly enough, those NGOs also tried to block the Vatican´s influence in developing countries,» he noted. «The Church represents the greatest obstacle to financial lobbies and Malthusian campaigns for population control.»

«While parliamentarians debate in Strasbourg, there are hundreds of thousands of priests and religious in the world who risk their lives to take care of the sick and hungry, and to defend the promotion of the person´s dignity and human rights,» he added. «In particular, thanks to the Church, many African and Asian women have obtained greater liberty and dignity, and the ability to influence their society.»

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