The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child significantly overstepped its mandate in presenting its non-binding concluding remarks and recommendations in respect of its recent consideration of the Holy See report.
This was particularly evident in its recommendations.
The Committee for example attacked the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, under the guise of a critique of the Church's handling of child sex abuse cases. The report, among similar things, recommends that the Catholic Church: identifies
- "circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted" (section 55)
- "overcome[s] all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives" (section 57a)
- "ensure[s] that sexual and reproductive health education and prevention of HIV/AIDS is part of the mandatory curriculum of Catholic schools" (section 57c)
This Committee has once again overstepped its mandate by making demands well beyond the scope of the actual wording of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is nothing in the Convention, which requires the Catholic Church or any other body to facilitate abortion, contraception or homosexuality.
The Committee also failed to recognise the significant progress achieved by the Holy See in the area of the protection of children or to take cognizance of the actual submissions made by the Holy See both in writing and during its January appearance before the Committee
The Holy See Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Archbishop Tomasi responding to questions in respect of the Committee conclusions said:
‘I would say that there is a difficultly apparent in understanding the position of the Holy See that cannot certainly give up certain teachings that are part of their deep convictions and also an expression of freedom of religion and these are the values that in the tradition of the Catholic Church sustain the common good of society and therefore cannot be renounced, for example the committee asked for acceptance of abortion and this is a contradiction with the principle of life that the convention itself should support recommending that children be protected before and after birth.
If a child is eliminated or killed we can no longer talk about rights for this person, so there is a need to calmly and in detail analyzing the recommendations proposed by the committee and provide an accurate response to the committee itself, so that there will be no misunderstanding on where we stand and the reason why we take certain positions and I would add that the practical remedies for preventing cases of abuse of children in forms of laws or decisions of Episcopal Conferences of directives for the formation of seminarians constitute a package of measures that is very difficult, I think, to find other institutions or even other states that have done so much specifically for the protection of children. So, my sense is that we have to continue to refine, to enact provisions that protect children in all their necessities so that they may grow and become productive adults in society and their dignity be constantly respected.
And at the same time we have to keep in mind that even though there are so many millions, forty million cases of abuse a year regarding children and unfortunately some cases affect also Church personnel. We have to keep in mind that, we have to continue to combat this tragedy knowing that even a case of abuse of a child is a case too much.’
John Smeaton executive director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children SPUC commenting on the report said;
'There is a great deal of hypocrisy in the committee's report. Under the cover of seeking to protect children against sexual abuse, the report promotes damage to children - the destruction of unborn children through abortion and the destruction of born children's innocence through the promotion of contraception and homosexuality.
The Holy See's representatives made clear to the committee last month, Catholic leaders are facing up to the shocking child abuse scandals within the Church. Pro-life and pro-family groups throughout the world must - like SPUC - come to the UN to help the Holy See in its vital work of protecting, unborn children and the marriage-based family. This work is under constant attack by the Catholic Church's enemies, as manifested in the committee's report today.
Any pro-life/pro-family groups interested in lobbying at the UN are invited to contact me for help and advice regarding accreditation and related issues'