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UN criticises Vatican over clerical abuse

By on Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The committe, pictued today, were critical of the Church (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

The committe, pictued today, were critical of the Church (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has told the Vatican to compile and publish detailed statistics on clerical sexual abuse of minors and that the pope should order Catholic dioceses and religious orders around the world to implement all the policies of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The committee, which spent an entire day last month questioning two Vatican representatives, also urged the Catholic Church to revise the Code of Canon Law to make it mandatory that bishops and religious superiors report suspected cases of sexual abuse to civil authorities, even in countries where civil law does not require such reporting.

The Vatican always has insisted that church law requires bishops and religious superiors to obey local laws on reporting suspected crimes; however, it also has said that where reporting is not mandatory and the victim does not want to go to the police, the victim’s wishes must be respected.

The “concluding observations” of the committee, which monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the Holy See in 1990, were published today.

A statement published by the Vatican press office the same day 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 Catholic doctrine.”

The committee urged the Vatican to release all its files on clerical sexual abuse cases in order to allow public scrutiny of how cases of alleged abuse were investigated and judged, how offenders were punished and how victims were treated.

“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 UN report said.

Throughout the report, the committee condemned what its members viewed as a “code of silence” surrounding the cases and claimed “the Holy See has given precedence to the preservation of the reputation of the church over children’s rights to have their best interests taken as a primary consideration.”

Testifying before the committee in January, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the former investigator of alleged abuse cases in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Vatican knows “there are things that need to be done differently,” particularly to address concerns about whether a local bishop or religious superior has covered up cases of alleged abuse.

“Only the truth will help us move on,” he told the committee.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to UN agencies in Geneva, also testified and told the committee that new rules and guidelines adopted under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, “when properly applied, will help eliminate the occurrence of child sexual abuse by clergy and other church personnel.”

The committee’s “concluding observations” said the church’s procedures for dealing with suspected cases of abuse are so hostile to children and their parents that some have reported being “re-victimized by the church authorities.”

The committee’s report also objected to confidentiality being “imposed as a condition of financial compensation,” although Bishop Scicluna had told committee members that in the vast majority of cases, the compensation is awarded by a court, which sets the terms.

Archbishop Tomasi told Vatican Radio today that his first reaction to the report was “surprise because the negative aspect of the document they produced makes it seem that it was prepared before” he and Bishop Scicluna testified in January. “In fact, the document doesn’t seem to have been updated to take into account what has been done in the past few years” by the Vatican and by individual bishops’ conferences.

“The church has responded and reacted and will continue to do so” to protect children and end the scandal of clerical sexual abuse, the archbishop said. “We must insist on a policy of transparency and zero tolerance for abuse because even one case of the abuse of a child is a case too many.”


  • James M

    “nobody’s saying all sexual abusers were homosexual…”

    ## Nobody ?

  • Go Diva

    Your kind of catholics I believe. Serial marriages/pro abortion etc. Complete contempt for church teaching. Part of the secular onslaught is to pretend to be catholic when “demonic” best describes their essential stance. (Cue sneers and mockery for use of word “demonic”)

  • James M

    Why can’t it be multi-factorial ? And why can’t there be several homosexualities ? Simplification is all very well, but not when it leads to simplifying things that can’t be properly understood if they over-simplified. That leads to massaging data to make them fit into solutions they don’t really fit in at all.
    Other biological-psychological phenomena – like cancer or epilepsy – have several forms: why can’t this ?

  • Henry

    I think you have cued the right response!

    Incidentally, since you have decided to criticize Catholics in America (and there are far more of them than there are in the U.K. which I assume you represent) you might tell me what has happened to Catholics in Europe. I understand that even a lower percentage go to Mass in the U.K. than in America. I understand it is no better in France. I also understand that sex before marriage and gay marriage and abortion are just as prevalent in Europe as here in America. Surely you should focus on local things before challenging America with those long words.

  • Free Speech

    Well it was clear enough to me already, before the smoke and mirrors of Disqus worked it’s magic.

  • Geronimo Smith

    You ought to get a job on the end of the pier. A headscarf and earings might suit you. You seem very active for an elderly man Free Press , running up and down the threads, replying to several simultaneously all day. But then you are one of the up and coming people promised by Nietzsche aren’t you?
    Anyway, where’s the bar? Rather a lot of blokes in here tonight. A bit stifling I think. But I won’t stay long. It’s a nice starry night. I think I’ll walk home.

  • Paddy S

    The audacity of UN lecturing anyone is unreal…

  • anarchicprune

    Wind your neck in!

  • Atilla The Possum

    I wouldn’t trust Henry with a pair of scissors….

  • Chico’s Cat Food

    Including its one-man atrocity: Jimmy Savile.

  • Chico’s Cat Food

    Why don’t you move to the Planet Mars – it involves a one-way trip…

  • James M

    So why are Catholic bishops still in situ ? Nasty horrid Godless relativistic secular Parliament came down pretty heavily on the “duck house” brigade, and quite a few MPs resigned, or decided not to stand again. When MPs are found guilty of crime, they are banged up – but when bishops are found guilty of crime, nothing happens; well, not to them. Nice to know that Rome will allow any kind of degenerate or criminal to be a bishop – even if they are simoniacs.
    How many bishops in the CC have gone ? All they care for is their jobs: only a retarded zombie wearing J23’s Rosy Spectacles of Unreality could think otherwise. And that is infinitely nicer than what one is tempted to say. Bishops & Popes these days are occasions of sin.

    “The western Church on a local and national level can be blamed for
    clerical abuse…but the Vatican had been defiantly left out of the loop”

    ## It was the men in the Vatican who sicced up new bishops to torment the Church. There would be no bishops in the CC otherwise. The Vatican is as guilty as Hades. The Faithful had no choice in the matter. They have to put up with whatever apology for a bishop Rome sees fit to dump on them. Short of offering human sacrifice to Satan Lord of Darkness, Emperor of the Legions of the Pit, or else, ordaining bishops without a Papal mandate, bishops are more or less untouchable. It’s just a pity they & the Papacy can’t be treated as untouchables.

  • Tridentinus

    I won’t have to face it Christ will look after his Church as He promised.

  • James M

    If so – why are they still bishops ?

  • Oyveh!

    The United Nations set itself up as a beacon of moral authority….the Catholic Church would not presume to do such a thing. Truth has no need to lecture. The high moral dudgeon of the UN committee smacks more of a certain kind of old-style Protestant self-righteousness. The line between the desire for justice and the desire to settle old scores with an organization UN functionaries consider politically “uncooperative” appears in this case rather blurred.

  • Henry

    Well, He certainly seems to be looking the other way at the moment. Especially as we see here so many commentators ready to disown His bishops, the very men who represent Him on earth.
    As someone else asked earlier, if these bishops are wrong, why are they still bishops? Who appointed them (most were appointed by JPII and By Benedict) and who is leaving them in their posts?

  • Henry

    What do you think the world at large thinks of your argument?

  • Tridentinus

    The world? The world is the enemy of the Church, it always has been from the beginning.
    The Penny Catechism: 348.

    Which are the enemies we must fight against all the days of our life?

    The enemies which we must fight against all the days of our life are the devil, the world, and the flesh.

  • Tridentinus

    Have you no knowledge of Church history?
    For over 2000 years He has sustained His Church and defended it from the wiles of Satan, the lure of the world and the attractions of the flesh. During that time inumerable Catholics, laity, clergy, bishops even popes have disowned Him during the schisms and heresies which have beseiged the Church; the Church is still here, 1.2 billion of us despite this and ferocious persecutions. This is just another crisis and no doubt there will be many more.

  • Henry

    Why not answer the question about the bishops?

    Incidentally, your reference to 1.2 billion applies only to those who were baptized as Catholics and not to the vast majority of the people who you and your colleagues here wish to discard as “cafeteria Catholics” or even atheists. In so many western countries 20% or less of baptized Catholics even bother to go to Mass on any regular basis. So, when you talk of 1.2 billion of “us” perhaps you would define the “us”. By all means include the third world representatives in the “us” if you wish since so many of them have very strange Catholic services that I suspect you would not value as a true orthodox Catholic. If we are talking of your brand of Catholicism the 1.2 billion figure is ridiculous.

  • Catholic Downunder

    Most Catholics expect criminals to be brought to justice both in secular and ecclesiastical jurisdictions. I expect that the words of a Judge would not be treated in the same way as the UN’s. Despite your suggestion, the UN is not respected and has little credibility for most people. On the other side of the coin, fault lies with the Vatican City state for ratifying a UN treaty. Had it not done so, the pot could not have called the kettle black.

  • Go Diva

    Shame on you. At your age and still you don’t remember Luke 18:8

  • Henry

    No, regretfully I do not remember Bible verse numbers.

  • PaulF

    Without the right diagnosis you can’t have the healing. Until we stop praising demonic religion we cannot have the power and security that goes with the Apostolic faith. God cannot lie, he cannot praise other gods, and he cannot support us in praising them. That is why when we praise them we are left with their stinking fruits.
    That is why we have sunk in the mire and we cannot get out.
    Everywhere I look in the Church I see people who can affirm the Apostolic faith, every word of it, and then turn around and start proclaiming how good the other religions and their gods are. We think we can confess Christ and confess Antichrist out of the two sides of the same mouth. Is it any wonder we have sunk into such shame that the princelings of this world have the brass neck to deliver sermons to us?
    There is a way out of all this, if our leaders are prepared to go back to confessing and not denying the Apostolic faith. The Almighty will deliver us, but not as long as we are giving the glory to demons.

  • Go Diva

    Nor me. I remember what they refer to.

  • Go Diva

    I’d try to cut back on the caffeine.

  • Zorro

    How’s the ship sailing Bo’sun? Have we hit the rocks yet?

  • Go Diva

    Surely it is reasonable to demand a reciprocal opening of archives elsewhere before unilaterally doing so to please our mortal enemies. Are you related to the Trojan Horse? Or someone who is holier than holy could ever be?

  • Floy Joy

    I agree with those here that state that too many posts are just saying “who are the UN to point fingers?..” Completely swerving the point that it is about CHILD ABUSE! Don’t shoot the messenger just listen to the message. The Vatican/Catholic Church has been reluctant for so many years to deal with this issue and are we suddenly supposed to believe that NOW this is a top priority. Of course they need to be monitored and told if they are too slow to eradicate abusive priests. Somebody needs to do it. At least the UN commands attention and thus the Vatican/Catholic Church has to take notice. They would rather it was all quietly forgotten-that was the message they were giving to abuse victims for decades. But those that question if the Church is doing enough and quickly enough MUST be heard. For the sake of the Church, for our sakes and most importantly for the sake of children.

  • Ben Carter


  • Furtrapper

    Are you equating the Catholic Church with the KGB, MI5, CIA and Mossad?

  • Guglielmo Marinaro

    Homosexuality is hardly comparable to cancer or epilepsy, but yes, it is possible that its causation is multi-factorial. The causation of heterosexuality may also, for all we know, be multi-factorial: why can’t there be several heterosexualities? But to date no-one actually knows.

  • Guglielmo Marinaro

    Yes, as with all sexual behaviour, there are potential long term health risks. There is no such thing as risk-free sexual behaviour, not even risk-free heterosexual behaviour. Look at cervical cancer, for example, which is largely transmitted by heterosexual intercourse; life-long virgins and “pure” lesbians seldom contract it.

    Knowing about risks – and it is right that people should be fully informed – may (or may not) alter people’s behaviour and induce them to behave more responsibly. It won’t alter anyone’s sexual orientation.

  • Julian Lord

    it would be permissible to use it only on adults who asked for it entirely of their own free will

    Tell that to the California gay lobby, who are trying their utmost to prevent exactly what you describe for those seeking it of their own free will, rather than to the readers of the CH.

  • Oyveh!

    The “world at large” will be indifferent, indifference being the default mode for moral/ethical questions. The UN manages to turn a blind eye to a good deal of the horror in this world unless its politically compliant functionaries choose to do otherwise. It is an ineffectual body. Its record in conflict resolution is poor. it gets “tough” by frequent condemnatory assaults on the State of Israel. but seems totally complacent with regard to minority and political persecution in the Dar al-Islam or able to offer anything other than the standard range of bromides in Syria, Sudan, Centralafrican republic etc This is the organisation that stood by as the US and others illegally invaded Iraq and Afghanistan; Catholic Church opposing both. This historical scandal in the Church can only satisfactorily be dealt with by the Church. It is being handled effectively. Sexual misconduct now seems commonplace in places of education, media organisations, military, internet so the fingering of the Catholic Church as a particularly bad case appears provocative. The Church does not accept abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia, sterilization, same-sex liaisons, globalisation, divorce and so forth. UN liberal social policy does and the likes of Fru Sandberg don’t like that. This organization has unclean hands as it fingers the Church for transgression. As the Vatican is not permitted to be a full member of this body her voice goes unheard in its halls.

  • Julian Lord

    But WHY the vast majority of people are heterosexual is quite a
    different question from what it is that MAKES the vast majority of
    people heterosexual

    A ludicrous attempt to try and present heterosexuality as merely some sort of option, whereas it is the biological necessity in the reproduction from generation to generation of the sexed animal life forms of this planet.

    Homosexuality cannot honestly be understood otherwise than as a deviation from the reproductive function of the animal life of planet Earth.

    Heterosexuality is the product of evolution and/or Creation (from the most neutral point of view) — homosexuality is a form of behaviour tending towards the extinction of the genetic material present in those individuals who engage in it.