Holy See Criticises "Negative Approach" of UN Report on Clerical Abuse of Children

Archbishop Tomasi Says Lobby Groups Have “Reinforced Ideological Line”

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The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations has denounced a report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), describing it as out of date.

In addition to offering an assessment of the Holy See’s response to sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the UN report calls on the Church to change its teaching in certain matters.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, had headed the Holy See delegation to 16 January hearing of the CRC.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the archbishop said that the report seemed “not up to date,” noting that the recommendations made by the CRC “point out a rather negative approach to what the Holy See has been doing and has already achieved in the area of the protection of children.”

Taking into account the “practical remedies for preventing cases of abuse of children”, through the use of laws, decisions made by Episcopal conferences, and the formation of seminarians, it would be difficult to “find other institutions or even other states that have done so much specifically for the protection of children.”

Regardless, he said, the battle against the abuse of minors needs to be constant. “We have to continue to refine, to enact provisions that protect children in all their necessities so that they may grow and become productive adults in society and their dignity be constantly respected,” he said.  

“We have to continue to combat this tragedy knowing that even a case of abuse of a child is a case too much.”

Archbishop Tomasi said: “The Holy See presented its report as a state like in this 65thsession of the activity of the committee,” he said. The reports of Germany, Congo, Portugal, Russian Federation and Yemen were also examined.

The Holy See presented to the UN concrete measures being taken by both the Vatican City State and the Church at large. “The effort made was to give an objective picture of the remedies undertaken of the new steps that still are in the making,” he said, “like the commission announced by the Holy Father for the protection of minors.”

“The Holy See is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the archbishop said, “and intends to be faithfully carrying out all the elements of this Convention for the protection of children.”

“This is the way toward the future and I don’t think that there will be fundamental changes in this task ahead.”

The report went on to criticize Church teachings on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality.

Archbishop Tomasi said there appears to be some difficulty in “understanding the position of the Holy See that cannot certainly give up certain teachings that are part of their deep convictions and also an expression of freedom of religion.”

“These are the values,” he went on, “that in the tradition of the Catholic Church sustain the common good of society and therefore cannot be renounced.”

For instance, that the report calls on the Church to recant its teaching on abortion “is a contradiction with the principle of life that the convention itself should support recommending that children be protected before and after birth.”

“There is a need to calmly and in detail analyzing the recommendations proposed by the committee and provide an accurate response to the committee itself, so that there will be no misunderstanding on where we stand and the reason why we take certain positions,” he said.

In a separate interview with Vatican Radio’s Italian edition, Archbishop Tomasi also accused lobby groups of influencing the committee report. Certain non-governmental organizations who have interests in homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues have “certainly” presented their observations “and in some way reinforced an ideological line,” he said. 

On ZENIT’s webpage

Archbishop Tomasi’s interview with the Italian language edition of Vatican Radio

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