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Vatican accuses UN of prejudice in child sex abuse report

'Committee misunderstood nature of Holy See'

07 February, 13:17
Vatican accuses UN of prejudice in child sex abuse report (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 7 - This week's report by the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child shows "grave limits" in a misunderstanding "of the specific nature of the Holy See", Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Friday, accusing the committee of prejudice while insisting relations with the UN as a whole were still sound. On Wednesday the Committee issued a wide-ranging report that excoriated the Vatican for adopting policies that it said allowed sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children by clergymen and demanded immediate action.

Lombardi said the Vatican was entitled to be "baffled" by the Geneva-based committee's failure to understand the makeup of the Church, not just as a religious institution but as a juridical entity. Critics of the report argue it asks too much of the Holy See, which despite being the central government of the international Church is nevertheless incapable of directly overseeing every local parish that caters to the world's more than one billion Catholics. For instance, it would be impossible, critics add, to track spending on children in Catholic institutions worldwide, or to create an international monitoring body to be made accessible to all children in all the Church's hundreds of thousands of educational institutions, as the report urges it to do. "The lack of comprehension of the nature of the Holy See is grave," said Lombardi. "It's true that our structure is different from other States, making it difficult to understand our role or responsibility. But that's been explained in great detail over the years.

"Is (the Committee) unable or unwilling to understand? In either case we have the right to be baffled". The Vatican said the Committee was prejudiced and had ignored efforts to stop pedophiles and help victims over the last decade, bowing to prejudicial arguments from anti-Vatican NGOs. "The insistence on particular cases" showed attention was given to "well-known NGOs contrary to the Catholic Church itself, and not to positions of the Church and the Holy See," he said.

The Committee also overstepped its brief by criticising Catholic ethical doctrine, voicing "its own ideological vision on sexuality" in "moral judgements on abortion and contraception", said Lombardi.

Nevertheless there is "no clash" between the Vatican and the United Nations, he added, after some ardent Vatican supporters insisted the Vatican withdraw its signature to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. "The Holy See has always given strong moral support to the United Nations as a place of gathering between nations, to promote world peace and harmony among peoples," said Lombardi. The spokesman went on to credit "higher" officials in the UN "who have always understood the importance of the Holy See's moral and religious authority". (photo: Pope Francis and Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi)