The United Nations Committee on the Convention of the Rights of a Child, an organization which monitors children’s rights according to the groundbreaking 1989 Convention, released its report on the Vatican yesterday. Primarily concerned with the global scandals of sexual and physical abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and religious, the report also included recommendations for the Vatican on LGBT issues.
In a section concerning Non-Discrimination, the report states:
“While also noting as positive the progressive statement delivered in July 2013 by Pope Francis, the Committee is concerned about the Holy See’s past statements and declarations on homosexuality which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.
“The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.”
Elsewhere, in a section on Family Environment, the Committee writes:
“While welcoming the information provided by the delegation of the Holy See that it will proceed with a revision of family-related provisions of Canon Law in the near future, the Committee is concerned that the Holy See and Church run institutions do not recognize the existence of diverse forms of families and often discriminate children on the basis of their family situation.
“The Committee recommends that the Holy See ensure that Canon Law provisions recognise the diversity of family settings and do not discriminate children based on the type of family they live in.”
You can read the full report here, as well as articles which cover the entire contents of the report under ‘Related Articles’ at the bottom of this post. Catholic leaders at the Vatican and in the United States said they were studying the report, but expressed concern that its recommendations went beyond child abuse. The Washington Post reports:
“U.N. officials in Geneva described the investigation as only one of many periodic reviews it conducts of sovereign states that are signatories of Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See ratified in 1990. They said the panel’s report veered beyond the sexual abuse cases because it found the other topics relevant to the Vatican’s compliance with all articles of the convention…
” ‘Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is something that we have raised with many states,’ Kirsten Sandberg, chair of the committee, said in a statement. ‘This is nothing special. We are not going outside the scope of the Convention.’ “
As for LGBT advocates, the Washington Blade reports Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, as saying:
” ‘Many government leaders around the world and many Catholics in the pews have expressed the opinions that report articulated so clearly that the Vatican’s negative messages against LGBT people cause violence, harm and in some cases death’…
DeBernardo added he expects Francis will respond to the report because ‘a prestigious organization like the U.N. puts weight behind that message.’ “
The Committee and DeBernardo are not the only voices asking the Catholic Church to publicly and forcefully oppose anti-gay laws. People of faith worldwide have emailed and tweeted Pope Francis asking him to speak out for LGBT human rights through the #PopeSpeakOut campaign. Regardless of where one stands on sexual ethics, the right to live free from violence and discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a universal cause every Catholic can agree upon.
Will you send an email or a tweet to the pope? You can do so by visiting www.NoMoreTriangleNations.com
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
National Catholic Reporter, “UN Report Criticizes Vatican Child Protection Record“
New York Times, “UN Panel Assails Vatican Over Sexual Abuse by Priests“