The Vatican has responded in defense of its policies and practices, but probably not vigorously enough (the Holy See has also promised to give serious consideration to the UN’s recommendations). I take the liberty, however, to defend the Church a bit more energetically, and wish to point out a few obvious inconsistencies with the UN report.
First, the UN report goes beyond the issues of child abuse to criticize the Holy See for its positions on abortion, homosexuality, and “gender stereotyping.” The report, therefore, is not only or perhaps even primarily concerned about protecting children, but about promoting the sexual libertarianism, and discrediting the Church for its rejection of sexual promiscuity. By failing to keep to its subject, the report fails to meet basic reporting standards, and seems more an ideological rant than a professional report.
Second, the UN commission on the Rights of the Child, at the same time, criticizes the Church both for abusing children and for defending the lives of children (i.e., for its position on abortion). Abortion, which takes the life of a child, is a far greater form of abuse than any other, and yet the UN itself promotes this child abuse. The UN, of course, could argue that the unborn child is not a child, but by the same illogic the Church could argue that the 5-year-old is not a child. In fact, a significant number of professional ethicists now promote infanticide after birth, but the UN does not seem anxious to criticize them. Why does the UN permit infanticide in China, for instance?
Third, the UN assumes that the Holy See could have prevented every local case of child abuse, not acknowledging the Vatican’s limited authority over the world’s priests. One could just as well argue that the U.S. Department of Education is directly responsible for every single case of child abuse in every American school, or that the United Nations itself is responsible for every case of human rights abuse in the world, since it has the authority of its Security Council.
The UN report is clearly a poorly-disguised and sloppy act of calumny against the Catholic Church. The very same criticisms it levels against the Holy See can be leveled right back against the U.S. Government or the UN itself. Perhaps it’s time for the Holy See to do just that.