Catholics for a Free Choice Commends UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for Pursuing Justice for Clergy Sexual Abuse Victims in the Philippines
WASHINGTON, DC—As a special UN committee completes its review of the Philippines’ compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, commends its members for the concern and compassion they demonstrated in their observations of the alleged cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children by those affiliated with religious institutions in the Philippines.
“Clergy sexual abuse is a global problem,” said Kissling. “It is imperative that individual nations assume responsibility for the welfare of their young citizens and take steps to protect their youth from this type of abuse. In order to promote the safety and welfare of children, governments—particularly those who have pledged to honor the Convention on the Rights of the Child—must hold the Vatican and its national officials and employees accountable.”
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child found that there is a problem in the Philippines with the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors in the framework of religious institutions in the Philippines. In its observations, the committee clearly stated in Paragraph 51:
The Committee recommends the State party to take effective measures to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation in the framework of religious institutions, including by investigating the magnitude of such cases and by ensuring that the perpetrators of such abuse are brought to justice and that officials of religious institutions are held accountable in these cases of sexual abuse and the exploitation of minors.
Kissling applauded the UN Committee for urging the government of the Philippines to take measures to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation within the framework of religious institutions. Earlier this year, Catholics for a Free Choice, along with two NGOs in the Philippines—LIKHAAN or Linangan ng Kababaihan, Inc. (Center for Women’s Development, Inc.) and the Child Justice League, Inc. (CJLI)—submitted an NGO report on clergy sexual abuse in the Philippines.
“One of the reasons that governments must step up is that we have a clear sign from Vatican that sex abuse is not a priority,” said Kissling. “Catholics worldwide have little confidence that the Holy See, on its own, will adequately address the problem of child sexual abuse by its clergy. Therefore, Catholic groups are appealing to the UN to address this problem through the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See has also signed. Church leaders have attempted to minimize the problem by claiming it is largely confined to the United States. While we hoped that Pope Benedict XVI, in his first 100 days as pope, would meet with survivors of sexual abuse and initiate a serious investigation of the problem, we are seeing a lack of interest and concern from the Vatican. Subsequently, we believe that secular authorities—in particular the UN, where the commitment to children’s rights is strong—is the best hope for children to find justice.”
In May of this year, Vatican officials contacted the US State Department seeking immunity for Pope Benedict XVI as a head of a foreign state in a sex abuse lawsuit filed in Houston, Texas. Earlier that month, a Vatican official stated that they would not investigate allegations of abuse against the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Since 2002, CFFC has partnered with national-level child rights organizations and progressive Catholic reform groups to produce and submit Shadow Reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child during their examination of the periodic reports submitted by various States Parties. NGO reports on clergy abuse have been submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child for Canada, Germany, France, Austria, the Philippines, and most recently, Australia.
The full shadow report on the Holy See and the Philippines is available here.