UN Committee Blast Vatican on Child Abuse
The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child thanked the Holy See for its cooperation in compiling its report and then proceeded to launch a damning indictment of the Church’s failures.
First, it rejected the Vatican’s long held defense that it cannot monitor the behaviour of all of its priests, all of the time. The UN says by signing up to the Convention the Vatican committed to doing exactly that.
Then the killer paragraph summing up the principle accusation of the report: “The Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests.”
In other words it has put itself above the needs of the thousands of victims affected by this scandal.
There was a long list of well known accusations; that priests are still shuffled from place to place to avoid prosecution, that there is a code of silence, that whistle blowers are ostracized, and that data remains secret.
The UN called on the Vatican to open up its archive, to remove everyone guilty or accused of abuse and that they should be reported to police, that reporting to the police must become mandatory, and that Pope Francis’s new commission must have outsiders and everything it does must be made public.
Elsewhere the committee was equally critical of the Church’s attitude to children born outside marriage, needed to do more to empower young people, and in terms of contraception and teachings which confine young boys and girls to old fashioned sexual stereotypes and social roles.
It didn’t take long for the Vatican to hit back. A brief statement said parts of the report interfered with the Church’s teachings and that some areas involved non-negotiable areas of belief. Unnamed sources started briefing that the report was ideological and politically correct.
It shows how big the challenge Pope Francis faces. If he is genuinely committed to ending the Vatican’s culture of secrecy vested interested have to be confronted. Can he convert the new language and tone of his papacy into a revolution in how the Church interacts with civil society.
The UN committee demands that the sexual abuse of children be declared a crime by the Vatican. Today it is simply referred to as a moral failing. It also invites the Vatican to return before the committee by September 2017 having implemented all of its recommendations. Fat chance that will happen.