Big Job for Pope Francis

Judgement Day: The UN asks the Vatican to answer for the actions of peadophile priests

The United Nations have sent the Vatican a long list of questions asking for detailed information on the issue of sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The Legion of Christ and Ireland’s Magdalene laundries are first in the firing line Alessandro Speciale Wednesday 10 July 2013 The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has presented the Vatican with a long list of requests for information “on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns or brought to the attention of the Holy See.” The committee in question ensures that the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is respected. The list, comprising about twenty points, was sent to the Vatican on 1 July this year.

In the document, the UN committee asks the Vatican to specify which measures have been put in place to ensure no priest accused of sexual abuse is authorised to have contact with children. It asks the Vatican to provide the “explicit instructions given at all levels of the clergy to ensure the compulsory reporting to national competent authorities of all cases of sexual abuse.” The Vatican is also asked to mention cases where leaders of the Catholic Church were asked “not to report such offences, and at which level of the clergy.”

And this is just the beginning: The UN committee also wants further information about the kind of support the Holy See offers children who have suffered abuse, about canonical inquiries into paedophile priests and about how Church authorities have cooperated with national courts.

The committee also wants to find out more about the Church’s policy with regards to victims’ compensation, whether payments were handed out in exchange for victims’ silence and what measures were adopted to prevent any further cases of abuse. The document highlights two cases in particular: the Magdalene’s laundries, Irish Catholic-run work houses, where female orphans were subjected to “torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and of subjection to force labour” and the Legion of Christ, which is accused of preventing seminarians from having contact with their families.

The requested information will need to be presented by this coming 30 November. The questions are part of a periodic monitoring process which all countries that adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child –including the Holy See – must undergo. They are the follow-up to a bi-annual report which the Vatican presented last September. The Holy See is due to appear before the committee next January.

Last 18 June the committee met with representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). SNAP’s president, Barbara Blain described it as a historic moment: “The fact that a UN committee has called the Vatican to account for its record on children’s rights, including the right to be free from sexual violence and exploitation, is giving survivors all over the world hope,” she said. SNAP hopes that other International organisations will follow in the UN’s footsteps, to shed light on the truth and prevent new hideous crimes of this kind. The Holy See’s diplomatic mission in Geneva – where the UN human rights office is based – says it is ready to respond to the committee’s questions (the Vatican Secretary of State will prepare the reply) but it warned against potential “exploitation” of the information it provides. “We will definitely have to give some answers,” Mgr. Massimo de Gregori told Vatican Insider.

“That abuse was committed cannot be denied – the monsignor stressed – but it is important that this initiative is not limited exclusively to the Holy See. In light of certain cases, they consider it necessary to ask further questions. These questions are made at the committee’s discretion but they are asked on a frequent basis, as can be seen on their website.” “AlthoughVatican Insider

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