UN panel’s recommendations to Vatican
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child published a report Wednesday on the Holy See’s compliance with a 1989 U.N. accord on child rights. The report focused heavily on the worldwide allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the Vatican’s handling of the cases.
Here are some of the 67 recommendations made by the 18-member panel, which is based in Geneva and made up of independent child rights experts from around the world.
AMEND CHURCH LAW
The Vatican should bring its Canon Law in line with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See ratified in 1990, “in particular those (laws) relating to children’s rights to be protected against discrimination, violence and all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.” This includes any obligation for victims of crimes or those aware of them to remain silent.
PUT CHILDREN BEFORE THE CHURCH
The panel said that “in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests.” It said church officials had in many cases blamed the victims or their families, sought to discredit and in some cases humiliated them.
Despite the Vatican’s commitment to “hold inviolable the dignity and entire person of every child,” the panel expressed its “deepest concern about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide.” It added: “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.”
STOP IMPEDING INVESTIGATIONS
The panel urged the Vatican to stop the transfer of abusers and suspected abusers, a practice it said had been documented on numerous occasions and which amounted to covering up the crimes. A Vatican commission created last year should investigate “all cases of child sexual abuse as well as the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them.” In doing so, it should consider bringing in independent human rights groups, publish the outcome of the investigations and allow its archives to be accessed by law enforcement authorities investigating alleged perpetrators and those who may have covered for them.
It called on the Vatican to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes.”
The Vatican should provide training on child rights to all priests and members of Catholic orders and institutions working with children.