Vatican Summoned Before UN Committee on Rights of the Child
February 28, 2013, New York and Rome – Today, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed an alternate report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child documenting the ongoing worldwide sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The UN committee has summoned the Vatican to report on its record of ensuring children are protected from sexual violence and safeguarding children’s well-being and dignity, the first time the Holy See will have been called to account for its actions on these issues before an international body with authority. The first meeting will take place in Geneva in June.
The SNAP-CCR report to the Committee lays out the depth and breadth of the problem, the policies and practices within the church that have both enabled and perpetuated the sexual violence, and the principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and one of its Optional Protocols which the Vatican has violated.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Pam Spees, “When the Committee on the Rights of the Child meets in June and demands answers from the Vatican on its handling of the epidemic of sexual violence in the church, it will be a historic day for survivors. The church has put itself and its reputation above the welfare of children at every step, in many cases knowingly moving a pedophile priest from one congregation to the next to keep things quiet, allowing the priest to continue to operate and have contact with children. This UN body has authority to determine whether the Holy See has violated the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s a long overdue calling to account.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a case with the International Criminal Court
on behalf of SNAP against the pope and other high-level Vatican officials for crimes against humanity in September 2011 and provided additional documentation in the case in April 2012. The prosecutor is currently reviewing the evidence.
“It's tragic that Vatican officials have been as dismissive and unresponsive to the UN as they've been to wounded victims and vulnerable children,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director who is in Rome this week. “The refusal of two popes to take the safety of kids seriously should worry not just parents and parishioners worldwide, but law enforcement and governmental leaders as well.”
The filing of the report comes amid speculation on the role of the sex abuse crisis in the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and scrutiny of the roles played by many of those who will choose his successor in aiding and abetting the crisis.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers, as well as those who suffered institutional abuse or those hurt by scout leaders, coaches and teachers. Visit www.snapnetwork.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.