News / Europe

UN Committee on Torture Grills Vatican on Sexual Abuse

Reuters
— A U.N. committee on torture grilled the Vatican on the Catholic Church's child sexual abuse crisis on Monday, urging a permanent investigation system to end a “climate of impunity” prevailing for decades.
 
In a two-hour hearing in Geneva, the Committee Against Torture launched a barrage of questions to the Vatican delegation, asking about past policy decisions, the juridical distinction between the Holy See and Vatican City, and information on specific cases.
 
The Vatican, which will issue its formal answers on Tuesday, said the Church has been “doing its own house cleaning” for 10 years, was determined to protect children and that measures put in place have led to a decline in cases of sexual abuse of children by priests.
 
George Tugushi, a committee member from Georgia, said a recently formed international commission advising Pope Francis on how to deal with sexual abuse, was a very positive step but  not enough.
 
“The commission may need help to ensure all cases are reported properly and begin to change the climate of impunity but it cannot be considered in our opinion as a substitute for a functioning investigation system,” he told the Vatican delegation headed by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.
 
Another committee member, Satyabhoosun Gupt Domah of Mauritius, asked if the Holy See was taking steps to eliminate the “chemistry that creates the conditions” for sexual abuse of children by priests.
 
The Holy See's position is its adherence to the U.N. Convention Against Torture applies only to the territory of Vatican City. Tomasi said while the Holy See can be a moral force, the “agent of justice” for crimes committed by Catholics was the local state where the crime was committed.
 
“It should be stressed, particularly in light of much confusion, that the Holy See has no jurisdiction ... over every member of the Catholic Church,” he said in opening remarks.
 
Splitting hairs
 
Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) accused the Vatican of ducking responsibility. “They are splitting hairs when they should be embracing the victims and stopping the sexual violence,” she said.
 
The committee's chief rapporteur, Felice Gaer of the United States, told the Vatican delegation that its position “seems to reflect an intention for a significant portion of the actions and omissions of Holy See officials be excluded from consideration by this committee, and this troubles us.”
 
Gaer and Tugushi presented dozens of questions to the delegation, asking them to respond to reports presented to the committee by non-government organizations.
 
“We have received numerous allegations of intimidation of witnesses and shifting of finances to avoid payment (of compensation),” she said.
 
Church groups defended the Catholic Church's efforts to stem abuse and criticized committee members who said the Church's opposition to abortion had harmed women.
 
“Attacking the Church's moral and religious beliefs violates the religious liberty of the Church, a human right which the United Nations affirms,” said Ashley McGuire of Catholic Voices.
 
“Over the last decade, the Church has put into place reforms and protocols so strong that they are now being modeled by other institutions, like public schools ...,” she said.
 
Last February, a U.N. committee on the rights of the child  accused the Vatican of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of abuse and attempting to cover up sex crimes. The Vatican called the report unfair and ideologically slanted.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid