Thursday, January 16, 2014

Archbishop Tomasi on the Holy See's committment to protecting children

The Holy See, like other states have been discussing Thursday, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, a report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The agreement includes calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and to put children's interests above all else.

The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990.

The Vatican will be represented by Bishop Charles Scicluna who previously served as Promoter of Justice at the Congregation of for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Lydia O’Kane spoke to Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. 

See below the transcript of Vatican Radio's interview with Archbishop Tomasi

Q. What is happening today in Geneva regarding this subject?

A. today is in session the committee of experts of the convention of the rights of the child. It is the seat of the Human Rights Office of the United Nations. 

This committee presents its observations, suggestions, advice to every state that has ratified the convention and therefore has an obligation to present a report on how the convention is implemented in the territory of this state. It’s an occasion to start a dialogue between the state involved and the experts in order to facilitate and to improve the protection of children. 

Today in this current session of the committee will be examined the reports of Russia, Germany, the Holy See, Portugal, Congo, Yemen, and we will very gladly take this occasion as a constructive moment, an important occasion, to reaffirm the value and the procedures of the convention and to accept any good advice that is given for that can be helpful in the protection of children. 

The Holy See is more than willing to, as it has declared already when it ratified the convention in 1990, to promote and to sustain the good principles and the good values that are contained in this convention. So, today is a normal day of work for the United Nations. 

The attention that is given to the Holy See is understandable but it is part of a series of other states that are being examined and we are convinced that some very good results are coming out of this dialogue with the experts. 

Q. There has however been criticism of the Holy See. What is your response to that?

A. There are several criticisms that are made on the policies or the presumed policies of the Holy See like that they covered up some crimes but I would say that the policy of the Holy See is to recognize that any crime is bad and when children are involved it becomes a crime that needs to be addressed more forcefully. 

So the obstruction of justice to the detriment of the legitimate jurisdiction of the individual state should be prosecuted by those states in every case. The policy and good sense of the Holy See is to encourage the prosecution of any crime, including crimes, and especially crimes, against children. 

So my sense is that some of these accusations or criticisms derive from a lack of knowledge of the activity, the measures taken by the Holy See in the last several years and also by the local churches and by the attitude and the directives given by the Holy See that are for transparency and protection in any case of, as a priority of all the children.

Q. What are the prospects for the future on this issue in Geneva?

A. Well, limiting the prospective on the convention on the rights of the child, I am sure the Holy See will fulfill its international obligations and it will take into due account, the observations, the comments and suggestions in furthering its commitments under the convention of the rights of the child. 

The Holy Father has already announced the establishment of a commission for the protection of minors, the input of the committee, the observations, whatever advice the committee will give will be studied carefully by this new commission and the objective is always the best interest of the children, their protection, and prevention of any abuse or of any harm that may come to them. 

So the task ahead is to strengthen the good steps and the good measures that have already been taken and to continue to maintain as a priority the protection of children.

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