Catholic World News

Holy See will not share abuse investigation information with UN committee

December 04, 2013

The Holy See will not share information from its internal proceedings related to clerical sexual abuse with the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Reuters news agency reported.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is responsible for examining compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 1989 treaty signed by 193 states. The Holy See signed the treaty in 1990.

The United States is not bound by the treaty: although President Bill Clinton signed it in 1995, the Senate has not ratified it.

“In the light of the recognition by the Holy See of sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world, and given the scale of the abuses, please provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns or brought to the attention of the Holy See over the reporting period,” the committee requested.

“Please provide data, disaggregated by age, sex, ethnic origin and socio-economic status, on cases of violence against children within the family for the period 2010-2012 reported to institutions of the Holy See and the actions taken to protect children and prevent further violence,” the committee added.

In its response, the Holy See stated that in order to protect “witnesses, the accused, and the integrity of the Church process,” its proceedings “are not open to the public,” Reuters reported.

“Deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse,” the Holy See “does not exercise effective control over the local activities of Catholic institutions around the world,” the Holy See added in its response.

In its inquiry into the Holy See’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the committee made several other requests:

Please indicate the steps taken to address discrimination between children in Catholic schools and institutions, in particular with regard to gender, and to promote equality between girls and boys. In particular, please indicate the measures taken to remove from catholic schools textbooks all sex stereotyping which may limit the development of the talents and abilities of boys and girls and undermine their educational and life opportunities.

Please indicate whether the Holy See still label children born outside wedlock as “illegitimate children” and whether it has assessed the consequences on the use of such terminology on the rights of these children …

Please indicate whether an investigation was conducted by the Holy See into the complaints of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and of subjection to force labour of girls held in the Magdalene’s’ laundries run by Catholic Sisters in Ireland until 1996. If so, please provide the Committee with the main findings of such an investigation …

Please indicate whether the Holy See has clearly condemned and taken measures to prevent all forms of corporal punishment of children in all settings, including within the family. In view of the widespread allegations of corporal punishment inflicted on children in catholic institutions, as revealed notable by the Ryan Commission in Ireland, please explain the measures taken by the State party [i.e., the Holy See] to impartially investigate those allegations and hold those accountable those responsible …

Please explain how the Holy See fulfil [sic] its responsibility to exercise due diligence and to prevent violence against children within the family. In this context, please clarify the statement contained in paragraph 23 of the Holy See’s report that “children must be protected in cases where a proven abuse has been committed within the family” and that “beyond such cases, civil authorities must not intervene in the family and interfere with the duties and rights of the parents” …

Please indicate the measures taken to investigate the allegations made by young boys enrolled in the Legion of Christ that this religious congregation has been separating them from their families.

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  • Posted by: [email protected] - Dec. 08, 2013 9:21 PM ET USA

    Glad to hear they are standing up to the UN which has so many members with terrible human rights abuses. The UN panel only wants it to make political hay and condemn the Church. Why is not this panel investigating the torture and murder of Christians and children in India? Because it is of no interest to them.

  • Posted by: Biscjim - Dec. 04, 2013 6:49 PM ET USA

    After reading the full text of the request, I find it to be quite offensive, and question if the Holy See should even be party to this "treaty".

  • Posted by: opraem - Dec. 04, 2013 6:48 PM ET USA

    like card mahony who fought disclosure for many years, the vatican realizes the pr bomb the records will detonate if published. jp 2 gave the bishops a do-over for a reason.

  • Posted by: unum - Dec. 04, 2013 6:17 PM ET USA

    The UN has demonstrated that it is no friend of Christians, in the Middle East or any where else. There's no point in giving them rocks to throw back at us. Good move!

  • Posted by: normnuke - Dec. 04, 2013 2:51 PM ET USA

    Having proved itself an abject failure in helping to maintain peace between nations and peoples (leaving that expensive chore to the US taxpayer) the UN moves on to bullying the Vatican.

  • Posted by: Defender - Dec. 04, 2013 12:19 PM ET USA

    The UN is sure on an ego trip and, unfortunately, there are those in government who support their radical views. One point was mentioned that is worth remembering, "the Holy See 'does not exercise effective control over the local activities of Catholic institutions around the world.'" This is where the Church needs to be much more autocratic is stamping out views and actions contrary to the Faith.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Dec. 04, 2013 7:55 AM ET USA

    Sounds as though the Committee really believes they are in charge. The Holy See should encourage them to sit down, relax, and enjoy a nice hot cup of GET LOST.