Skip to main content
Toggle Banner
You can make an impact in the fight for reproductive freedom.

New Shadow Report Details How Sexual Abuse Problems in Catholic Church Represent an International Crisis

October 16, 2002

CFFC  meeting with UN  officials deemed a success

A delegation led by Catholics for a Free Choice has returned from Rome and Geneva where is previewed The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a report that illustrates the international scope of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church. CFFC called for a meeting with Vatican officials to discuss the report, its implications and recommendations to solve the crisis. The Vatican did not respond.

“This report shows that sexual abuse in the Catholic church is not an American crisis. It is a global crisis with victims around the world,” said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice. “Because of the scope of the crisis, the church needs to respond now and develop a plan of action. We have a number of recommendations to present to them on how they should do that,” she said.

The evidence of this global crisis was shown by the presence of three sexual abuse victims who were part of the CFFC delegation. One victim was from New York, two were from Mexico. After the meeting in Rome, the delegation went to Geneva. “Working from our status as an accredited non-governmental organization, CFFC prepared this ‘shadow report’ to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child,” said Kissling.  “That committee’s mandate is to monitor signatories’ compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Holy See acceded to this convention in 1990, and thereby pledged to uphold its provisions.  Sadly, the report illustrates the Holy See’s failure to effectively implement the Convention in the twelve years since its accession. Members of the UN committee were very receptive.”

In the report, Kissling said CFFC is asking the Holy See to:

  • Apologize to the victims for the abuse and the cover-up
  • Cooperate with local civil authorities in reporting, investigating, punishing, and following-up on cases of clergy child sexual abuse
  • Rescind the newly-instituted requirements of secrecy in the Catholic church related to these cases, and
  • Punish abusers to the full extent of their own law

CFFC is asking the Committee on the Rights of the Child to:

  • Insist that the Holy See submit a full reporting of the magnitude of the problem of clergy child sexual abuse
  • Demand from the Holy See a concrete plan on how it will deal with reparations for past abuse and prevention of abuse, and
  • Require that other States Parties to the Convention report accurately on the abuse in their own countries.

Through the report, CFFC is urging member states to:

  • Work together with officials of the Catholic church at regional and national levels to protect children
  • Report on the abuse in the countries when they meet with the Committee, and
  • Refuse to allow the church’s institutional secrecy that has resulted in the scandal continuing unchecked for so many years

Kissling was joined in Rome by:

Dr. Jose Barba-Martin, a professor of the history of ideas and humanities at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM), is one of several men to come forward to report to the Vatican that the Rev. Marciel Maciel, founder and leader of the conservative order the Legionaires of Christ, had sexually abused them when they were students in schools run by the order.  

Roberto J. Blancarte, a professor-researcher and academic coordinator at the Center of Sociological Studies of El Colegio de Mexico and Foreign Associate Professor of the Groupe des Sociologies des Religions et de la Laicite (Paris, France).

Simon W. Kennedy, an attorney from Ireland who has tried cases of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Ireland.  

Sara Morello,  a Senior Associate at Catholics for a Free Choice, who is a canon lawyer with experience addressing church law and clergy sex abuse in the US.  

Mark Furnish, an attorney in New York who was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest as a teenager who is now an outspoken advocate for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) was also in Rome as a member of the delegation that will meet with the UNCRC.