Sexual crimes towards children belong to the most disgusting crimes. If these crimes are committed by people of the special public trust, who are, for example, priests, then their odiousness is intensified. For, these people do multifaceted harm to a child – the physical and psychological harm, as well as spiritual harm, because in this kind of cases the tragedy whose culprit is a priest surely evokes serious distortions or loss of faith in a child and his relatives. Priests committing sexual crimes towards children do a harm not only to their direct victims: ‘Whatever you have done to the little brothers of mine, you have done to me’ – says Christ (Mt 25.40) – but also to the whole Church of Christ to which clergy and laity belong. This all causes a situation when this kind of crimes must be prosecuted not only by the secular justice administration to which they are subjected to, but also by the inner ecclesiastical institutions.

And the Church does it. There is also the fact that for many years it has being making mistakes of neglects. However, does it allow for making conclusions and postulates by the authors of the report of the UNO Committee for Children’s Rights? In no way!

A report or absurd propaganda?

Members of the Committee stated that the Holy See breached the Convention of Children’s rights whose signatory it is. In the report announced on 5 February 2014, the Committee criticized Vatican for closing its eyes on rapes and sexual harassment of ten thousands children. It called for opening acts concerning priests who committed acts of pedophilia and expel them from the Church. It also called for passing ecclesiastical archives to the justice administration, concerning matters connected with harassment of children. The Committee expressed its anxiety by the fact that the Holy See had not undertaken essential steps in order to eliminate cases of sexual abuse of children, and, what is more – it was pursuing the policy which allowed for continuing abuse and impunity of culprits. Moreover, the report called the Catholic Church to start inner investigation of the abuse cases and also to pay off full redress to victims and their families. Finally, the Committee criticized the Holy See for its attitude towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

Accusations formulated in the report concern various problems. However, the first of them is pedophilia which was committed by priests of the Catholic Church.

This problem was revealed to the eyes of believers and the so-called whole public opinion at the turn of XX and XXI centuries when sexual crimes of priests in the United States were revealed. Since then the Holy See has been undertaking more and more consistent actions in order to solve this issue. Like the previous popes- John Paul II and Benedict XVI – also the pope Francis makes decisions which radicalize proceeding procedures in the case of suspected committing a pedophilic crimes by priests. In December 2013 the Holy Father set up a special commission for children protection whose basic task is a fight against the problem of pedophilia in the Church. The commission is to monitor the situation of victims of pedophilic priests, suggest (in cooperation with the national episcopates) initiatives which should be undertaken in this matter and propose candidatures of people who can realize them. These all actions prove the fulfillment of commitments of the Holy See, as a party of the Convention about Children’s Rights, to undertake suitable steps in order to provide children’s protection against any forms of discrimination of any suitable statutory-administrative actions and others, for realization of children’s rights acknowledged in the Convention.

Among all these actions undertaken by the Catholic Church in order to fight and act against pedophilia, report was given to the Committee of the UNO for Children’s Rights by a permanent observer of the Holy See at the Geneva headquarters of UNO – archbishop Silvano Tomasi. He has done it recently, on 16 January 2014. It is surprising that the content of the report of the UNO does not consider the actions of Vatican and local Churches, presented in the precise and detailed suitable ecclesiastical answers of the ecclesiastical delegation to accusations included in various points.

The Catholic Church bases its teaching and activity on the Gospel, which tell us to love a fellowman and care about the weakest ones. Therefore – as archbishop Tomasi stated – the Holy See is engaged in the defence and protection of children’s rights, according to the principles included in the Convention about Children’s rights and moral and religious values of the Catholic doctrine. Children’s protection is just the main care of both the contemporary society and the Holy See. In no way is it negated that the problem of pedophilia exists among priests, as well as it exists among teachers or other social and professional groups. Therefore it is necessary to fight against it and the Church is doing it. The Holy See has elaborated the principles of proceeding towards pedophilic priests and procedures whose aim is eliminating sexual abuse of children by priests and cooperation with the authorities of particular countries in fighting these crimes. Tips were elaborated which are to make it easier for local Churches to work, so that their representatives could use suitable methods of proceeding. Whereas local Churches have elaborated principles of proceeding according to the binding law in a particular country.

In the light of the wide explanations given by archbishop Tomasi there are suspicions that the report of the Committee of UNO was written before his meeting with delegation of the Holy See. So, why was it written? Why was this meeting? Unfortunately, even the superficial observation of atheistic and anti-ecclesiastical groups in the recent time orders us to set the thesis that the report and proceeding of the Committee are not aimed at protecting children from sexual abuses (and at least it is not the priority purpose), but they are inscribed in the line of the frontal attack on the Catholic Church. One should also pay attention to the fact that in this formulation there is not an attempt to negate the abomination of sexual crimes committed by priests, emphasized in the introduction of this article. Whereas it includes the negation of the scale of this phenomenon suggested in the report. This scale, however, when compared to other professional groups is small. Whereas, there are attempts to make an impression as if a pedophile lived in every vicarage and in every bishopric curia officials were trying to figure out how to conceal his criminal behavior. Everybody who actively participates in the life of the Church, even without looking into statistical data, must state that it is an absolute propaganda, not a reliable report.

Interference into the moral teaching of the Church

Real intentions of the report-makers of the UNO Committee for Children’s Rights are also revealed by its another fragment referring to the teaching of the Church in issues of abortion, contraception and homosexuality. It is a kind of a sign of times and the symbol of groups fighting against Christianity and this all which is connected with it and grows from it, with the whole Latin civilization. With the usage of these openly intolerant slogans, these groups are proclaiming that they are fighting for tolerance – how to characterize the fight widespread in Western Europe in a different way, in the name of freedom from religion, against any religious symbols and bringing religious freedom only to its negative aspect? A similar way of presenting the issue is done by the report of the UNO Committee for Children’s Rights which expresses concern about children hurt by some priests, so as to defend those who kill the unborn children, using the tragic example of the 9-year-old Brazilian girl raped by her own father. Moreover, the voice of the Church is criticized in its unconditional defence of the life of the unborn and there are suggestions that the Holy See breaches the Convention of Children’s Rights, and does not perceive family pathologies in it, for which, undoubtedly, the libertine policy of many UNO countries is responsible.

It must be reminded that according to the Convention of Children’s Rights, to which the report makers refer, ‘a child, in respect of his/her physical and mental immaturity, requires particular care, including suitable legal protection, both before and after the birth’ (preamble), every human under the age of 18 being is a child (art.1), and every child has a right to life (art.6, par.1). Therefore, the Catholic Church stands in the defence of every child who, confronting his/her parents, is completely defenceless. Contrary to the Committee for Children’s Rights, does not segregate children and does not differentiate them, against the Convention, into more and less valuable human beings. Defending children, the Church teaches, evangelizes, and, according to the art.6 par. 2 o the Convention, points out to optimal conditions for upbringing children which are: good family, free from pathologies and based on the marriage of a woman and a man, equal in their rights. Do the UNO agendas and all UNO members have the same serious and consequent attitude towards this problem?

What is the most important, is the question: who gave the right to the UNO Committee for Children’s Rights to interfere into the matters of every Church and another religious group? These matters, undoubtedly, involve moral teaching. Who gave this agenda the right to negate the truth revealed in the Holy Scripture, on which this teaching is based? Who gave it the right to attack milliards of believers who, using the religious freedom anchored the human dignity, live with their free religious and philosophical beliefs in their life and proclaim them also in the public life? Nobody!

There are more questions here like the one which is, unfortunately, rarely asked in the public discourse: Why does the Committee for Children’s Rights stand in the defence of homosexuals and criticize the Church for it negative attitude their sexual orientation, if the definite majority of revealed pedophilic scandals involving priests concern their criminal acts of homosexual character? Pedophilia – no, homosexuality – yes? The reality shows clearly that this kind of slogans do not serve to defend children. The real defence of children can be done only under the slogan: pedophilia – no and homosexuality – no. In the UNO report, like in the all actions of world and European anti-Christian groups, everything is upside down and is brought to negation of Christianity and values from which our civilization developed, with the usage of various methods – including arguments suggesting that the Catholic Church would become the main source of pedophilia and the nest of pedophiles.

Let’s defend ourselves more actively

The leftist- libertine groups do not stop at an open negation of Christianity and Christian values. They started walking all over us. Facing this reality, we, the secular members of the Church, with our priests, we cannot maintain passive. The attack on the Church is also an attack on us. This is an uncompromised and dirty attack. And, in this respect, we should have a more favourable attitude towards the resolution of a group of senators from various political groups, in which the government of Polish Republic is called to undertake ‘suitable actions aimed at forcing the UNO to deal with what it has been set up to’ and to cut itself off from the ‘harassing propaganda’ of the UNO in the name of ‘many Poles’ belonging to the Catholic Church, its role in the history of our country and memory of the greatest son of our land – blessed John Paul II’.

We should also have a similar favourable attitude towards intensifying actions of the Holy See and local Churches aiming at the complete solving the problem of pedophilia among priests. Because although there less such cases than in professional and social groups – archbishop Tomasi emphasizes – ‘even one case of sexual harassment of a child is not permissible’.

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Przemysław Czarnek, Department of the Constitutional Law of the Catholic University of Lublin of John Paul II


"Niedziela" 8/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: