UN committee tells the Vatican to come clean

Oh now that’s satisfying to read

A United Nations panel is demanding that the Vatican hand over detailed information on child sex abuse cases involving Catholic clergy.

In a document published online, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked the Vatican to come clean with how it addresses children’s rights around the world, including what measures it takes when dealing with sexual violence.

See what I mean? No bowing, no scraping, no apologies, no deference, no reverence, no extra “respect”; instead, demanding that the secretive lawbreaking self-serving bastards hand over the information. It is about.fucking.time.

The panel, which polices the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, wants the Catholic Church to reveal confidential records on investigations and legal proceedings against clergy members accused of sexual crimes on children.

The Geneva-based committee also wants to know what measures are being taken to ensure that clergy members accused of sexual abuses are not in contact with children and how members are told to report allegations of sexual violence.

The document mentions specific cases of abuse, including the Magdalene Laundries, which were Catholic-run workhouses in Ireland where thousands of women and girls were forced to work unpaid and under harsh conditions. The committee wants any records looking into complaints of torture and inhumane treatment as well as information on the number of babies taken away from their mothers at the laundries.

It also wants records on investigations into the Legion of Christ in Mexico, where young boys have accused the congregation of separating them from their families.

Good, good, good. Also the Irish industrial “schools”? Also the infants in Spain stolen from their parents and sold to adoptive parents? Also the children in Australia sent to the Christian “brothers” to be abused? It’s a long, long, long list of cruel destructive shit the Catholic church has done to children over the past many decades.

Michael Nugent has the whole list of questions.

The UN Committee will question the Vatican at a hearing next January, and it has first asked the Vatican to respond in writing to the questions by November.

The questions cover

  • Who was involved in preparing the Holy See’s report
  • Measures taken by the Holy See to implement the Convention
  • The training given to all religious personnel who work with children
  • Discrimination between children in Catholic schools and institutions,
  • Labeling children born outside wedlock as “illegitimate children”
  • The right of children to be heard and to express their views freely on all matter affecting them
  • The complaints of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the Magdalene’s laundries in Ireland
  • Preventing all forms of corporal punishment of children in all settings, with particular reference to the Ryan Report in Ireland
  • Preventing violence against children in the family
  • Detailed 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
  • Allegations of the Legion of Christ separating boys from their families
  • Measures to protect the rights of abandoned children

That’s a big to-do list. The Vatican is going to be very busy between now and November.

5. Please indicate the steps taken to address discrimination between children in Catholic schools and institutions, in particular with regard to gender, and to promote equality between girls and boys. In particular, please indicate the measures taken to remove from catholic schools textbooks all sex stereotyping which may limit the development of the talents and abilities of boys and girls and undermine their educational and life opportunities.

That’s a real stumper. What can they say? They don’t promote equality between girls and boys; they don’t believe in it. What will they say? The usual waffle about how women are “complementary” but must not abandon their womany natures? The UN won’t find that acceptable, I should think. This could be fascinating.

6. Please indicate whether the Holy See still label children born outside wedlock as “illegitimate children” and whether it has assessed the consequences on the use of such terminology on the rights of these children.

That’s how children got sent to places like Goldenbridge, you know – because the priests labeled them “illegitimate” and grabbed them away from their parents.

7. Please provide information on the concrete measures taken by the State party to promote and protect the right of children to be heard and to express their views freely in all matters affecting them in accordance with article 12 of the Convention. Please also clarify the statement contained in paragraph 23a of the State party’s report that “the inherent dignity of the child is founded on something more profound than his ability to express his views”.

Oh, zing. They’re telling the Vatican to keep their pious bullshit.

8. Please indicate whether an investigation was conducted by the Holy See into the complaints of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and of subjection to force labour of girls held in the Magdalene’s laundries run by Catholic Sisters in Ireland until 1996. If so, please provide the Committee with the main findings of such an investigation. In particular, please provide detailed information on:
(a) The proceedings engaged against all those found responsible within these congregations, and against all those who financially benefitted from the forced labour done by girls in the laundries;
(b) The number of babies taken away from their mothers in the Magdalene’s laundries, placed in catholic orphanages or given for adoption as well as on the measures taken to reunite mothers with their children, and the efforts to ensure full disclosure of all information on the whereabouts of all these children;
(c) The compensation as well as the rehabilitation measures, including medical, psychological and social services provided to the victims of the Magdalene’s laundries who are still experiencing long lasting consequences of the abuse suffered when they were children.

Of course nothing like that was done. The Vatican spokespriests said they were very very sad about the whole thing and now could we please change the subject to the evils of secularism. That’s what was done, and not one bit more.

I wonder what will happen when the Vatican fails to comply. Anything? The UN isn’t famous for being good at enforcement…


  1. stever says

    Look for lots of smoke from the Vatican’s chimneys. Or a flurry of orders to manufacturers of high-speed shredders. Of course, even if all that information came to light, what would happen? The Vatican is a sovereign state, and the UN is not yet a government (as defined by Ambrose Bierce: an organization that both asserts the moral right and has demonstrated the power to kill anyone in its domain who refuses to obey its orders).

  2. says

    The Vatican has demanded — and gotten — all of the rights and privileges of a sovereign state. It is long past time that someone reminded them that the rights and privileges come with obligations to the international community and punishments for wrong-doing.

  3. dmcclean says

    Gregory @4 is exactly right.

    They were smart enough not to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, one wonders why they would have signed this one.

    Or for that matter the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which according to the Wikipedia precis includes the following definition:

    “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs… The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.

  4. Kimpatsu says

    The problem is that the UN has no power. Its Human Rights committee has been pressing Japan for years to adopt anti-racism laws, and Japan just ignores them. The Vatican can do the same without penalty.

  5. says

    … meanwhile, despite his criminal complicity, comes the massive PR smokescreen of JP II’s canonisation. And don’t hold your breath waiting for the ostrich Ratzinger to be arrested, even though he no longer has ‘head of state’ immunity from prosecution (which is no protection from the International Criminal Court anyway).

  6. B-Lar says

    …The Vatican can do the same without penalty.

    Probably not… In the world of secular evil besetting it from every side, it needs to be able to show that it is strong and righteous. They might assert that no human authority can compel them to reveal anything, but I cant imagine that would do so well in this century.

    If they don’t answer, then it could snowball from fascinating to full blown media debacle.

    I have a dream, that I see the collapse of Vatican city in my lifetime…

  7. Corvus illustris says

    The politburo of the RCC are the same people who–until 1929–denied that in the course of the 19th c., Italy had ceased to be a collection of autocracies (one of which was the RCC). Anyone who thinks they’re going to care about a little bitty UN report, or fall-out from ignoring it, needs to consider the Vatican’s record.

  8. F [is for fluvial] says

    The Vatican is going to be very busy between now and November.

    Maybe, but likely not involving compliance. And while Gregory @ 4 is completely correct, what states ever comply with such things? Generally the specific circumstance must fall into vogue with enough powerful member states to go about taking military action. (Which would completely hilarious if the Vatican were involved. Can you imagine NATO going all Yugoslavia on their asses?)

  9. Abdul Alhazred says

    Well that’s nice and all that, but how many divisions does the UN have?

    Moral authority? Don’t be silly.

  10. justsomeguy says

    What do you mean the UN isn’t famous for being good at enforcement? They just busted out one of the most powerful options in their arsenal: a polite letter. If the Vatican doesn’t comply, the UN will have no choice but to use the their dreaded weapon of last resort: a sternly-worded letter.

  11. Al Dente says

    a “routine procedure.”

    Sure. Lots of countries get asked about citizens routinely raping children and having an official policy of moving the rapists to other parts of the country while hiding the rapes from the cops.


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