United Nations Pursues Church and Italy on Child Abuse

As part of an ongoing investigation, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is accusing the Catholic Church of colluding with the Italian state to protect pederast priests: “UN panel probes Italy’s role in Church’s child abuse scandals.” Five years ago, this U.N. committee accused the Vatican of “fostering a ‘code of silence’ that ‘systematically’ put the reputation of the Church and offending priests over the protection of child victims.” The Vatican gave no reply. Just before the current summit on child abuse, Pope Francis lashed out against all those accusing the church (Pope Francis Flips Out). He made no mention of the U.N. Nor did he respond to its current charges.

Professor Jorge Cardona, a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, had a private meeting with Pope Francis on January 17. He brought up the 2007 Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which was approved by the Council of Europe. This contains many concrete regulations of the sort Pope Francis says he is looking for. Professor Cardona urged Pope Francis to sign the agreement, and suggested that the papal abuse summit would provide an ideal place to do so. Pope Francis still has a day to sign, but there are no signs that he will commit the Church to moral standards adopted by the secular states of Europe.

News about the Lateran Treaty

The Lateran Treaty between Mussolini’s government and the Vatican in 1929 had two major impacts, and a number of lesser ones. Basically, the Church gave its support to Mussolini, thus giving him dictatorial powers, in return for Mussolini providing the impoverished Vatican a very large initial payment as well as continuing payments.

CRUX also identified a minor condition of the treaty which has remained in effect. The treaty states that the Church does not have to report cases of clerical child abuse to the Italian authorities. In other words, in 1929 the Vatican knew of its child abuse problems, and tried to cover it up. Neither the Vatican nor the Italian government has sought to modify this agreement in order to protect innocent children.

The article goes on to document the Church’s lack of transparency on clerical abuse in Italy, and the Italian government’s failure to take legal actions against pederast priests and church officials who cover up their crimes.

All this is worth keeping in mind as the press reports on the pomp and ceremonies of the Vatican abuse summit.


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