Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Vatican to U.N.: Don’t equate priests’ sexual abuse of minors with torture
First Published May 02 2014 06:37 pm • Last Updated May 02 2014 06:37 pm

Vatican City • As Vatican representatives prepare to testify before a United Nations inquiry into torture next week, a senior official warned investigators that it would be "deceptive" to link torture with the pedophilia scandals that have swept the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Friday the Convention Against Torture, endorsed by the Vatican in 2002, was one of the most important in the U.N.’s ambit.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Lombardi also stressed in a statement the Holy See’s "strong commitment against any form of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment."

But he urged the U.N. committee, which is holding three weeks of hearings in Geneva, to resist pressure from nongovernmental organizations "with a strong ideological character" that are intent on including the sexual abuse of minors in a discussion about torture.

"The extent to which this is deceptive and forced is clear to any unbiased observer," Lombardi said.

But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which represents 18,000 victims, said Friday that hundreds of children and adults were still being "sexually violated, tortured and assaulted" by Catholic priests.

"Torture and violence can be subtle and manipulative. Or it can be blatant and brutal," SNAP President Barbara Blaine said in a statement. "Either way, it’s horribly destructive to the human spirit, especially when inflicted on the young by the powerful, on the truly devout by the allegedly holy.

"Nothing has succeeded in getting Vatican officials to stop this violence," she added.

In a separate inquiry in February, the U.N. watchdog for the human rights of the child issued a scathing report ordering the Holy See to open its files on clergy who had "concealed their crimes" and called on the church to remove suspected or known abusers.

In a rare interview in March, Pope Francis defended the church, saying it had acted with "transparency and responsibility" on the issue.

story continues below
story continues below

In its submission, the group Catholic Voices USA told the U.N. committee Friday the church had become "the global model for the legal safeguarding of children" and church volunteers were often risking their lives to help the world’s vulnerable.

"Were this committee to label the Holy See a sponsor of torture, the results would be bloody and tragic," Ashley McGuire, from the organization’s advisory board, said in Geneva on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N. in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said in a newspaper interview Friday the incidence of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy was "the lowest" among all the professions, including teachers and judges.

He said suggestions that the church was some kind of "incubator" for abusive clergy were "dishonest and illogical."

The pope recently established a committee, headed by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, to look at the issue of sex abuse and the panel’s eight members have been holding their first meeting at the Vatican this week.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.