The Center for Constitutional Rights says in a press release issued this afternoon that the Vatican has been called before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in response to a report issued to the Committee by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The UN committee has summoned the Vatican to report on its record of ensuring children are protected from sexual violence and safeguarding children’s well-being and dignity, the first time the Holy See will have been called to account for its actions on these issues before an international body with authority. The first meeting will take place in Geneva in June.

There is little doubt that enemies of the Church will repeat these charges exactly as this group has made them. The problem is that they are false.

It may be true that SNAP issued what’s called a “Shadow Report” to the Committee making their views known and asking the Committee to take action. But, the truth of the matter is that the Holy See is a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and therefore reports regularly to the Committee. Any upcoming appearance before the Committee was scheduled anyway. There is no way the SNAP report in any way caused the Committee to call the Vatican before it. The Committee does not work that way.

The press release also calls the Committee an “international body with authority.” That is also false. The Committee has no authority whatsoever. States Parties don’t even have to appear before it and States Parties do not have to answer to it or even do what the Committee suggests. And that is all the Committee may do anyway, make suggestions.

It is possible the Committee could go beyond the authority given to it by the treaty and by the signatories to the treaty. This happens with such frequency that UN Member States are as we speak undergoing a process of treaty body reform that will likely clip the wings of these kangaroo committees.

The news that the Vatican has been called before a UN Committee to answer charges should be stopped in its tracks.

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