U.N. goes IN on the Vatican: Criticizes handling of sexual abuse cases, abortion, and contraception

The Vatican was the target of quite a scolding from a United Nations human rights committee.

According to the Associated Press, the Vatican “‘systematically’ adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.” 

The report was the result of a daylong interrogation that occurred in compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that was ratified by the Holy See. While it is extremely disheartening that the leadership within the Catholic church has failed to hold its leaders accountable for their crimes against children within the church, it is reassuring to know that the U.N. is not having it. They went on to reject the argument put forth that the Vatican doesn’t actually control bishops and priests, who commit acts of violence against children. The committee instead maintains:

“The Holy See was responsible for implementing the treaty not just in the Vatican City State but around the world ‘as the supreme power of the Catholic Church through individuals and institutions placed under its authority.'”

The report shamed the culture of silence around sexual abuse that has been fostered. It also urged the Holy See to provide compensations to victims, as well as hold perpetrators and those who participated in cover-ups accountable for their actions. And that’s not all. The committee also went to town on the Vatican’s stance on abortion and contraceptives.

“The committee, for example, urged the Vatican to amend its canon law to identify circumstances where access to abortion can be permitted for children, such as to save the life of a young mother. It urged the Holy See to ensure that sex education, including access to information about contraception and preventing HIV, is mandatory in Catholic schools. It called for the Holy See to use its moral authority to condemn discrimination against homosexual children, or children raised by same-sex couples.”

Naturally, the Vatican insists that they support the protection of children and that this report is the result of the U.N. bending to a “gay agenda” and infringing upon their religious freedom to oppose abortion and contraception.

Avatar Image Sesali was baptized Catholic at the age of 2. According to family reports, she told the priest “you better not pour that cold water on my head.” No surprise that she no longer identifies. 

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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