Children Need Protection and Fundamental Respect

International Catholic Child Bureau Stresses Rights of Youth

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GENEVA, Switzerland, APRIL 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Young people need to be protected from pedophiles, but even more fundamentally they need to be respected, said the International Catholic Child Bureau.

In a communiqué released last week, the bureau stated, “Before acts of pedophilia” take place “let us develop a culture of respect for the dignity and rights of the child.”

The organization, founded in 1948, in response to a call from Pope Pius XII to assist children harmed by war, is dedicated to advocacy for the rights of children. The group’s permanent representation committee is based in Geneva and coordinates its advocacy initiatives with international and European institutions. 

The communiqué condemned “every form of sexual abuse of children wherever it is committed and no matter who the instigators are.”

The bureau expressed consternation over abuses of children by Catholic priests.

It stated: “Those violations must be taken before justice. Once demonstrated, culpability cannot go unpunished.”

The organization insisted on the work of prevention and mobilization of communities and institutions to protect children from abuse.

It expressed appreciation for “the publication, by the Holy See, of guidelines that call for, among other things, systematic recourse to civil justice in cases of abuse or sexual violence.”

Code of conduct

“Unfortunately, no institution dedicated to children is free from these situations,” the communiqué acknowledged. 

It noted that because of this, it has equipped itself for many years with a code of conduct that includes bringing these types of cases to justice.

The bureau stated that it attempts “to promote behavior and to create an environment to prevent those acts.”

It called for people to help “in the implementation of the United Nations Convention regarding the rights of children, and especially in the application of its Articles 19 and 34, which order the states to protect children from all forms of exploitation and sexual violence.”

The bureau, which presently works in 66 countries, stated that the recent revelations, which “shake consciences,” must not make us forget “the immense work in favor of children carried out in the world by Catholic institutions and committed Catholics, clerics and laymen.”

The organization concluded its communiqué by appealing for people to work so that “a real culture of respect for the dignity and rights of children” will emerge, progressively, in the Church and in society.

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ZENIT Staff

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