In January, for the first time, the Vatican was forced to publicly defend its handling (or, more accurately, its mishandling) of the clergy sexual abuse epidemic that has long pervaded the Catholic Church. As part of an investigation into the Vatican’s adherence to the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Vatican/the Holy See (along with all United Nations member states) ratified in 1990, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child questioned Vatican representatives about both the magnitude of the epidemic and the degree to which it has systematically tolerated and even enabled child sexual abuse (including the rape of children by clergy members) to continue unabated.
Last week, the Committee released a report detailing the results of their investigation
. In it, they unequivocally declared that the Vatican has failed to adhere to the terms of the Convention. The Committee’s report focused primarily on two separate facets of one issue: 1) the widespread and long-term epidemic of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the Catholic clergy, and 2) the Catholic Church’s institutionally-sanctioned and systematic cover-up of these crimes.
The Committee didn’t mince words in their recommendations, declaring that: 1) the Church has utterly failed in its moral and legal duty to protect the rights and the well-being of children, 2) the Church has consistently prioritized both its own reputation and the rights of the sexual abusers among its ranks above the rights of victimized children, in some cases even going so far as to blame and punish the victims instead of the perpetrators, and 3) the Church has not only turned a blind eye to this epidemic, but has also, in many cases, enabled it to continue.