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“The Committee’s comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, addresses a news conference in July 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

After the release of a report from the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child earlier this week that roundly criticized the Vatican’s response to clerical sex abuse worldwide, the Vatican’s spokesman today issued some “comments and clarifications” about the Holy See’s position on the report.

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, reiterated the Vatican’s commitment to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Committee on the Rights of the Child was established to implement: “The Holy See, therefore, as the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin has said, continues its efforts to implement the Convention and to maintain an open, constructive and engaged dialogue with the organs contained therein.”

Lombardi continues:

At the same time, one cannot fail to see that the latest recommendations issued by the Committee appear to present – in the opinion of those who have followed well the process that preceded them – grave limitations.

They have not taken adequate account of the responses, both written and oral, given by the representatives of the Holy See. Those who have read and heard these answers do not find proportionate reflections of them in the document of the Committee, so as to suggest that it was practically already written, or at least already in large part blocked out before the hearing.

In particular, the [Observations’] lack of understanding of the specific nature of the Holy See seem serious. It is true that the Holy See is a reality different from other countries, and that this makes it less easy to understand the Holy See’s role and responsibilities . [These particularities], however, have been explained in detail many times in the Holy See’s twenty years and more of adherence to the Convention, and [specifically addressed] in recent written responses. [Are we dealing with] an inability to understand, or an unwillingness to understand? In either case, one is entitled to amazement.

The way in which the objections [contained in the Concluding Observations] were presented, as well as the insistence on diverse particular cases, seem to suggest that a much greater attention was given to certain NGOs, the prejudices of which against the Catholic Church and the Holy See are well known, rather than to the positions of the Holy See itself, which were also available in a detailed dialogue with the Committee. 

A lack of desire to recognize all the Holy See and the Church have done in recent years, [especially as regards] recognizing errors, renewing the regulations, and developing educational and preventive measures, is in fact typical of such organizations. Few, other organizations or institutions, if any, have done as much. This, however, is definitely not what one understands by reading the document in question.

Finally, and this is perhaps the most serious observation: the Committee’s comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church, giving indications involving moral evaluations of contraception, or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human sexuality, in light of [the Committee’s] own ideological vision of sexuality itself. For this reason, in the official communique released Wednesday morning there was talk of “an attempt to interfere in the teaching of the Catholic Church on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”

Read the whole thing, here.
 
About the Author
Catherine Harmon catherine.harmon@catholicworldreport.com

Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
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