(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s representative to the UN
in Geneva, has denounced “a negative approach” by the UN’s Committee on the Rights
of the Child to all that the Vatican “has been doing and has already achieved” in
the area of child protection. Stressing that every single case of child abuse is “a
case too much,” the Archbishop said it’s hard to find “other institutions or even
other states” that have done as much for child protection as the “package of measures”
taken by the Vatican and local bishops conferences.
Archbishop Tomasi was responding to a report, published on Wednesday, criticizing the Vatican for policies which it says allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children worldwide. It follows on from a meeting between the UN Committee and Holy See representatives in Geneva on January 16th.
A statement issued by the Vatican press office also says the Holy See takes note of comments contained in the new report, but expresses regret over what it terms “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.” It stressed the Holy See remains committed to defending and promoting the rights of children, according to the principles set out in the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Archbishop Tomasi said the Committee appears to have difficulty understanding the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the protection of life in the womb and the freedom for believers to express their deeply held convictions. He noted the UN report asks the Church to accept the practice of abortion, something he described as “a contradiction with the principle of life” that the UN Convention itself should be upholding, that is the protection of children before and after birth.
The Archbishop added that, as a state party to the UN Convention, the Holy See intends to continue “carrying out all the elements” for the protection of children and explaining its position to the UN Committee.
In December American Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston announced that Pope Francis was establishing a new commission on child protection and care for victims of abuse. He said it would work closely with church leaders worldwide to develop best practices, building on the norms that Bishops Conferences and other religious organizations have already been asked to draw up to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in dioceses across the globe.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: