FaithWorld

U.N. rights body poses tough questions to Vatican over child abuse

July 10, 2013

(Starlings fill the sky around the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica as dark clouds gather in Rome’s evening sky October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asked for “detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns” since the Holy See last reported to it some 15 years ago, and set November 1 as a deadline for a reply.

The request was included in a “list of issues”, posted on the CRC’s website, to be taken up when the Vatican appears before it next January to report on the Church’s performance under the 1990 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It will be the first time the Holy See has been publicly questioned by an international panel over the child abuse scandal which severely damaged the standing of the Roman Catholic Church in many countries around the world.

The CRC has no enforcement powers, but a negative report after the hearing would be a blow to the Church whose leader, Pope Francis, is striving to put a number of scandals behind him since succeeding Benedict XVI who resigned in February.

By issuing its questions, the Geneva-based CRC brushed aside a Vatican warning that it might pull out of the Convention on the Rights of the Child if pushed too hard on the issue.

In a report of its own in late 2011, posted on the U.N. website last October, the Holy See reminded the CRC of reservations on legal jurisdiction and other issues it made when it signed the global pact.

It said any new “interpretation” would give it grounds “for terminating or withdrawing” from the treaty.
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