Vatican rejects conclusions of child protection report

Report presents ‘grave limitations’ says Holy See spokesman

The Holy See senior spokesman has argued that the conclusions of the UN’s child protection report presented “grave limitations” and that they reflected the “prejudices of certain NGO’s”. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

The Holy See senior spokesman has argued that the conclusions of the UN’s child protection report presented “grave limitations” and that they reflected the “prejudices of certain NGO’s”. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Fri, Feb 7, 2014, 16:09

The Holy See’s senior spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, today issued an unprecedentedly scathing attack on the United Nations, arguing that the conclusions this week of the UN’s Geneva based Committee For the Rights Of The Child presented “grave limitations” and that they reflected the “prejudices of certain NGO’s” rather than the “positions of the Holy See itself”.

In dealing with the clerical sex abuse phenomenon, the UN body on Wednesday had accused the Catholic Church of failing to “acknowledge the extent of the crimes committed”. Furthermore, the report slammed a corporate Church culture which “consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests”.

In his response on Vatican Radio today, Father Lombardi argues that the report presents “grave limitations”. He suggests that the committee took little notice of the Holy See’s deposition in Geneva last month, that it was unwilling or unable “to understand”, that it paid undue attention to anti-Church NGOs and that it went “beyond its powers” when criticizing Catholic teaching in the area of sexual mores.

Reflecting on the huge international media response to Wednesday’s report, Father Lombardi points out that the Rights of the Child Committee’s findings often pass unnoticed, “even in the case of countries with human rights problems”, adding:

“…one cannot but observe that the tone, development and the publicity given by the Committee in its document are absolutely anomalous when compared to its normal progress in relations with other States that are party to the Convention (on the Rights of the Child).”

Arguing that the report contains grave limitations, Father Lombardi accused the Committee of having made up its mind, long before the Holy See deposition to the Committee last month, saying:

“Those who have read and heard these answers (at the hearing last month) do not find proportionate reflections of them in the document of the Committee, so as to suggest that it (the report) was practically written , or at least already in large part blocked out before the hearing.”

Pointing out how over the last 20 years the Holy See has repeatedly outlined its “specific nature”, he asks:

“Are we dealing with an inability to understand, or an unwillingness to understand? In either case, one is entitled to amazement.”

Father Lombardi argues that the Committee simply did not want to take on board all that the Holy See has done in recent years, not only through reforming norms and procedures but also through “recognizing errors”, adding:

“The way in which the concluding objections were presented, as well as the insistence on diverse particular cases, seems to suggest that a much greater attention was given to certain NGOs, the prejudices of which against the Catholic Church and the Holy See are well known, rather than to the positions of the Holy See itself, which were also available in a detailed dialogue with the Committee.”

Furthermore, the papal spokesman strongly rejects any attempt by the Committee to criticize fundamental tenets of Catholic teaching in the area of sexual morality, especially with regard to abortion, contraception and the LGBT communities, saying:

“The Committee’s comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church, giving indications involving moral evaluations of contraception, or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human sexuality in light of the Committee’s own ideological vision of sexuality itself”

US clerical abuse victims lobby SNAP immediately rejected Father Lombardi’s comments, saying that “the Vatican’s belligerence is deeply disappointing” and advising Pope Francis to “call of attack dogs and study the full UN panel report”. Rather than give credence to NGOs, the UN committee had given credence “to decades of well documented horrific crimes and cover ups”, said SNAP.