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Another UN panel batters Vatican on abuse

Catholic World News - May 05, 2014

For the 2nd time this year, a Vatican representative faced tough questioning about sexual abuse during an appearance before a UN commission on May 5.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who represents the Holy See at UN offices in Geneva, spoke to the commission on implementation of the UN Convention against Torture (CAT). Several commission members argued that the Vatican should be held responsible for sexual abuse of children, which could be regarded as a form of torture. But the Vatican representative countered strongly that the Vatican cannot be held responsible for violation of laws in other countries.

Archbishop Tomasi reminded the group that the Holy See approved the CAT with the explicit understanding that the Vatican’s ability to enforce the treaty applied only to the territory of the Vatican city-state. He observed that “the persons who live in a particular country are under the jurisdiction of the legitimate authorities of that country and are thus subject to the domestic law and the consequences contained therein.”

“It should be stressed, particularly in light of much confusion, that the Holy See has no jurisdiction – as that term is understood also under article 2.1 of the Convention – over every member of the Catholic Church,” the archbishop said.

Ignoring the archbishop’s legal argument, Felice Gaer, an American human-rights attorney and vice-chair of the UN commission, claimed that the Vatican was attempting to restrict its responsibility to “a subdivision” of itself. Panel members continued to argue that the Vatican should be held responsible for abuse by Catholic clerics throughout the world. Speaking to the Boston Globe before his UN testimony, Archbishop Tomasi indicated that he anticipated some harsh criticism of the Vatican. “We can take a few knocks, especially for the sake of people’s welfare,” he said. However, he said that the UN commission would be diminishing its own credibility if it allowed ideological attacks to overshadows its mission of ensuring protection against torture. Speaking more broadly about the UN commissions that monitor implementation of various international treaties, Archbishop Tomasi observed: “What we don’t want is for the democratic process to be twisted, with the agenda of the states being driven by bureaucrats or experts wedded to a particular ideological cause.”

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: gary.brisebois1104 - May. 06, 2014 2:22 PM ET USA

    What is torture, is listening to twisted argumentation of these UN beaurocrats.

  • Posted by: shrink - May. 05, 2014 5:45 PM ET USA

    Tomasi says: "What we don’t want is for the democratic process to be twisted, with the agenda of the states being driven by bureaucrats or experts wedded to a particular ideological cause." Well, in that the UN is nothing but and ideologically twisted beast wedded to the cause of bringing down Christianity and Western Civilization, one might think that Tomasi is arguing for the dissolution of the United Nations.

  • Posted by: rpp - May. 05, 2014 5:21 PM ET USA

    What a relief. And here I thought they were going to dredge up the black legend of the Spanish Inquisition. And I agree with Bruno; it is good that the Archbishop appeared to realize the motive for this silly attack.

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - May. 05, 2014 2:46 PM ET USA

    “What we don’t want is for the democratic process to be twisted, with the agenda of the states being driven by bureaucrats or experts wedded to a particular ideological cause.” - Yes Archbishop! It gives me immense comfort to know that our high pastors are aware of what is really happening.

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