Victims’ groups welcome findings of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Holy See rejects report’s attacks on Catholic teaching in the area of sexual mores
Former Vatican chief prosecutor of clerical sexual abuse Charles Sciclun (left) and the Vatican’s UN Ambassador Monsignor Silvano Tomasi prior to the start of questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children in Geneva last month. Photograph: Martial Trezzini/EPA
There was widespread reaction in Rome, in Ireland and across the world to the report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In Rome, the Holy See issued a statement rejecting the Geneva committee’s attacks on Catholic teaching in the area of sexual mores.
“The Holy See . . . regrets to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom,” it said.
“The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and religious values offered by the Catholic Church.”
aragraph 25 of the committee’s report complains about the use of “discriminatory” language such as illegitimate children. It also argues that church teaching can lead to “the social stigmatisation of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adolescents and children raised by same-sex couples”.
Lobby groups for victims of clerical sex abuse said the UN body’s findings supported long-held opinions.
In Ireland, One in Four said: “The report contains a scathing critique of the Catholic Church’s attempts to cover up the extent of the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy and its failures to report incidents of abuse to civil authorities. This report by an international neutral body confirms what has long been suspected: that the Vatican had a far greater knowledge of the extent of clerical sexual abuse than it has ever acknowledged.”
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the report was “a devastating critique of systemic child protection failures by the Vatican”, and called on the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, to indicate what action would be taken “to ensure that these shortcomings are rectified”.
The US Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap) reacted bitterly to the Vatican’s response, saying the UN’s findings had “nothing to do with birth control, homosexuality, abortion or doctrine”.
Of the Vatican’s promise to “study” the report, Snap said: “Bishops don’t move predators, shun victims, rebuff prosecutors, shred evidence, intimidate witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, dodge responsibility, fabricate alibis and blame others for clergy sex crimes and cover-ups because of inadequate ‘study’.”
The US Catholics for Choice lobby said that if Pope Francis was serious about “turning the page on this scandal”, he “should immediately dismiss any bishop” who had protected an abuser priest.
In Italy, the Caramella Buona lobby made the same request about the removal of “protector bishops”. It also called for greater church collaboration with civil authorities and for all abuser priests to be named.