In a sharply worded and detailed response to UN committee’s critical report on the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse, the Vatican’s chief spokesman has said that the committee’s recommendations “seem to go beyond its competencies and to interfere in the very doctrinal and moral positions of the Catholic Church.”
Father Federico Lombardi, the
director of the Vatican press office, released a lengthy response to
the report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on February 7.
In his 3-page statement charged that committee had neglected to pay
attention to information submitted by the Vatican, relying instead on
reports from groups critical of the Church. The Vatican spokesman
strongly suggested that the report had been drafted in advance, without
waiting for the Vatican’s own report.
Most important, Father
Lombardi charged, the UN committee had overstepped its jurisdiction to
attack the Church’s moral teaching. He said that “the Committee’s
comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to
interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic
Church, giving indications involving moral evaluations of contraception,
or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human
sexuality, in light of own ideological vision of sexuality itself.”
Lombardi made an extra effort to reaffirm the Vatican’s support for the
UN, and for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He said that the
Holy See recognized the value of “serious and well founded” criticism
regarding the Church’s response to the sex-abuse scandal. However, he
said that the UN committee’s report was a biased presentation.
Church has suffered from “unjustly harmful” media scrutiny in the
sex-abuse crisis, Father Lombardi said, and the enormous attention
accorded to the UN committee’s report was an example of that unequal
treatment. He pointed out that the same committee’s reports on other
nations have rarely been given media attention, even when the reports
point to grave violations of children’s rights.
also complained that the UN committee’s report shows a “lack of
understanding of the specific nature of the Holy See.” The Vatican, he
explained, does not control the behavior of priests in every country,
and cannot be responsible for law-enforcement efforts outside its own
limited jurisdiction. He observed that this point had been made
repeatedly to members of the UN committee, and “one is entitled to
amazement” that the point had not been absorbed.