AFRICANGLOBE – The UN has rejected a Vatican argument that it cannot implement a children’s rights convention beyond its walls, saying the church has “placed the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s interests.”
The Vatican was denounced yesterday by a UN human rights committee for failing to prevent priests raping and molesting tens of thousands of children over decades and for adopting policies that allowed abuse to continue once detected.
There was not, the committee said, adequate provision to ensure that cases like Ireland’s Magdalene laundries scandal – where girls were arbitrarily placed in conditions of forced labour – could not be repeated.
Offenders are moved around to new churches or locations, in order to protect them, while putting more children at risk of abuse, the report said while also condemning the “code of silence” imposed on child victims and the fact that those exposed almost always avoided prosecution.
“The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” the report said.
The Vatican said it regretted what it called an attempt by the UN committee to interfere with its teaching on abortion and contraception.
It said in a statement that it remained committed to defending and protecting the rights of children but that it regrets that the committee had attempted “to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”
The report would put pressure on Pope Francis, who until now has been warmly received, and that the Vatican is uncomfortable with being forced into a public debate.
“What we’re seeing here is pretty much a clash of cultures,” he said.
“The UN committee is peopled by ardent advocates of human rights – educationalists, child psychologists, legal experts. The Vatican, on the other hand, is very secretive – a hierarchical organsation that is very much used to doing its business in private and keeping its secrets secret.”
Compulsory reporting of cases to local law enforcement has consistently been rejected by the Church, something the UN body condemned, highlighting cases of priests and nuns being ostracised for speaking out.
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