When the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report criticizing the Vatican's response to clergy abuse, secret children, LGBTQ equality, and other issues, church defenders were bound to get angry. Shortly after the committee released Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See, several voices from the Religious Right were quick to lambaste the report for its content on reproductive issues and sexual ethics.
First, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was furious with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In a February 6th column at Newsmax, Donohue accused the UN panel of wanting the Vatican to submit to UN authority, change church law, and abandon its traditional sexual ethics. Calling the hearing and report an "ambitious power-grab", Donohue accused the committee of "arrogance" and shortsightedness regarding Catholic sexual ethics.
Next, in a February 10th statement, Priests for Life national director Frank Pavone called the report "outrageous", angry at the report's stance on contraception and other reproductive health matters.
"The arrogance displayed by those who crafted this document is equal only to their ignorance and failure to understand that the Holy See is unwavering as it upholds the dignity of all life from conception to natural death.Voices from the Heritage Foundation also weighed in. In a February 16th blog post at the Foundry, Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves accused the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child of "demanding that the Catholic Church abandon its fundamental religious doctrine to satisfy their interpretation of the [UN Convention on the Rights of the Child]. Schaefer and Groves accused the UN of hypocrisy in its condemnation of the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandals.
The comments issued by this UN committee on abortion, contraception for youth and the promotion of homosexuality reveal the growing radicalization of UN treaty bodies. This assault on the basic principles of the Holy See and the Catholic Church will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to faithful Catholics around the world who have not yet realized the great struggles for life and family taking place at the United Nations."
"The U.N. itself has a long history of problems with sexual abuse and a decidedly checkered record of holding those responsible to account. The Catholic Church’s problems with sexual abuse and transparency are widely known and must not be ignored, but this is clearly a case of the pots judging the kettle."In my opinion, much of this is deflection from the report's damning observations on the Vatican's failings. Far from being an attack on religious belief or freedom, the report was a much-needed call for institutional responsibility in the Catholic Church. No matter what side of the political spectrum they cleave to, commentators need to take the UN report seriously and demand accountability from the Vatican.