The United Nation’s committee against torture is spearheading a modern inquisition, but this time men of cloth are targeted during hostile interrogations over the Vatican’s record of sexual abuse against children around the world. Representatives of the Holy See tried to brush aside their obligation to enforce the convention against torture outside of its country borders.
The Vatican City state is the smallest country in the world, covering an area just a little more than 23.5 football fields. Their arguments were shot down one after another by members of the committee who demanded that the pope’s representatives answer a long list of alleged sex abuse against children around the world.
There is a distinction between the Holy See and the Vatican City state, which is why the church is so adamant regarding its commitments to treaties it signs. The Holy See is a sovereign entity without territory and it predates the Vatican City state, but it’s under the cloak of Holy See that the Catholic leadership maintains diplomatic relations.
The American expert on the committee, Felice Gaer, made plain her disagreement. She said the Holy See had to “show us that, as a party to the convention, you have a system in place to prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment when it is acquiesced to by anyone under the effective control of the officials of the Holy See and the institutions that operate in the Vatican City state.”
Gaer didn’t stop there. She demanded responses to claims that Italian bishops have been told they were not under any obligation to report suspected cases of sex abuse to the civilian authorities, as well as to allegations that the Vatican has provided refuge to a papal envoy accused of sexual abuse.
In January a Polish prosecutor was denied a request to extradite Archbishop Josef Wesolowski who’s been accused of molesting children in Poland and the Dominican Republic.
Child abuse was not the only thing on the menu of concern. The Church’s doctrine on abortions was also blasted. Gaer wanted a comment on allegations that its blanket stigmatisation of abortion has led to nine-year-old girls being required to give birth.
In February, the Vatican was outraged when another UN panel argued that children around the world were suffering as a result of Catholic teachings, including those on abortions and birth control. The Vatican retorted by saying the committee’s comments on the rights of the child constituted an attack on religious freedom.
Apparently, systematically raping children around the world and protecting priests from prosecution, preaching eternal damnation of fire and brimstone in hell for sins like abortion, and falsely spreading the message that condoms contribute to the spread of the AIDS virus are all good things – as long as they are in the name of the Lord.