UN demands Vatican take action on child abuse

A UN human rights committee has published a scathing report denouncing the Vatican for its failure to take action against paedophile priests.

A UN human rights committee has published a scathing report denouncing the Vatican for its failure to take action against paedophile priests.

Among its criticisms, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child denounces the “practice of offenders’ mobility”, whereby offending priests are transferred from parish to parish and sometimes to parishes in other countries.  

The report describes how the reporting of suspected child abuse has been hindered by a “code of silence” among priests, which has resulted in those breaking it being ostracised by colleagues.

It also calls for the sex abuse commission, established by Pope Francis in December, to carry out an independent investigation into all cases of child abuse committed by priests and to establish clear rules for reporting offences to the police.

And the report highlights the scandal of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, which operated between 1922 and 1996, in which women and girls were forced to carry out unpaid manual labour in “slavery-like” conditions.

As well as criticising the Vatican for its failure to act on child abuse committed by clergy, the report also criticises the Church’s socially conservative stance on LGBT rights, contraception and abortion.

The findings will make difficult reading for Pope Francis, who has made an effort to project a more caring and liberal image since assuming the papacy last year.

The Church has responded by describing the report as “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person”. One Vatican official, speaking off the record, said the committee’s statements on abortion, contraception and LGBT rights were “heavily agenda-driven and smacking of acute political correctness”.

However if the Church does not implement real change, it may find itself becoming much smaller. Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict, may have not been unhappy with such an outcome, but for Pope Francis, whose aim is for the Church to reach out to more people, this will represent a failure.

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One Response to “UN demands Vatican take action on child abuse”

  1. David Lindsay

    Of course, this absurd UN report is, entirely openly, about abortion and
    about the definition of marriage. It is not really, or at any rate
    directly, about child sexual abuse at all. Nor does it even make much of
    a pretence to be.

    On that subject, the Catholic Church unquestionably occupies the moral
    high ground, and not only, although certainly, because there has never
    been a UN peacekeeping mission without sexual violence and child sexual
    abuse, especially prostitution, on the part of the participants.

    The Catholic Church makes it a specific canonical offence for clerics or
    Religious to engage in sexual acts with persons under the age of 18,
    even if the age of consent in the territory in question is lower.
    Hundreds of priests who engaged in such acts were laicised by Pope
    Benedict XVI.

    In Italy, the age is consent is 14. But in the Vatican City State, the
    age of consent is 18, a full four years higher. And the four years
    between 14 and 18 are four very full years indeed.

    The Church’s mishandling of these matters in former decades
    does at least contrast favourably with, say, Britain in the 1970s.
    Sexual acts between adults of either sex and adolescents of either sex
    were then illegal but very common, both of which they still are.

    But unlike today, they were wholly respectable, with a universal
    expectation that the laws against them would very soon be repealed, with
    a huge volume of academic literature actively encouraging them, and
    with the mass celebration of them in both high and popular culture,
    something of which there is still quite a lot.

    No stigma attached to their practitioners at any economic, social, cultural or political level. Quite the reverse, in fact.

    At least, by moving the guilty priests around, the Church acknowledged
    that there was a problem. That was a very great deal more than many
    Social Services Departments, secular state schools, or non-Catholic
    commercial schools ever managed.

    Even now, no jurisdiction has any right to comment, either on the
    Catholic Church, or, more narrowly, on the Vatican City State, if that
    jurisdiction itself has an age of consent lower than 18.

    For example, the United Kingdom.

    There is plenty more here – http://davidaslindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/rights.html.

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