Groups blast Vatican before UN panel

Groups blast Vatican before UN panel

Victims & advocates file detailed new complaint

Top Catholic officials will soon be questioned in Geneva

A similar UN panel harshly criticized church after first such hearing

This time, it's the Committee Against Torture looking at church hierarchy

Groups document on-going Catholic child sex abuse scandal as 'acts of torture'

Their goal: to “expose, punish & deter widespread & systematic sexual violence


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, leaders of an abuse victims’ support group and a human rights organization will disclose and discuss their new formal complaint to a United Nations panel that sharply criticizes top Catholic officials for enabling and concealing sexual violence.

Next month in Geneva, Vatican officials will appear in person before that panel.


Monday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m.  


Outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Ave (between 50th & 51st) in Manhattan 


Four-six members of two groups - an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)


Next month in Geneva, the UN Committee on Torture will question Vatican officials on their compliance with an international treaty condemning and forbidding torture.

Representatives of SNAP and CCR are formally making a detailed and extensive complaint to the UN Committee. The 80+ page submission documents a systematic, widespread and on-going global practice of concealing rape and abuse, tolerated and enabled by the Vatican and shows how these acts constitute torture.

The jurisdiction of the UN Committee Against Torture names rape as a form of torture. Top Catholic officials signed and ratified the Convention on Torture nearly 15 years ago. By doing this, they legally agreed to uphold the rights and regulations laid out in the treaty.

The Vatican is now being called by the committee for its periodic review on how they have implemented the treaty.

SNAP and CCR’s submission shows the role played by Vatican officials in the on-going protection of perpetrators, the hiding of crimes and the enabling of rape, sexual assault, and torture of thousands of innocent children and vulnerable adults around the world.

In January, Vatican officials were called before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, also in Geneva, for their periodic review under another UN treaty which top church officials also signed. A month later, that committee released a long and scathing report on how the Catholic hierarchy is refusing to protect children and stop the systematic and widespread cover ups. The report attracted worldwide attention.

In that report, the committee urged church officials to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and (contact) relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.” It also noted that on “numerous occasions,” the Vatican “has refused to cooperate with law enforcement authorities and to disclose information requested by prosecutors and national commissions of inquiry.” 

A copy of the new UN filing, submitted late last Friday, is available at the CCR website, The hearing in Geneva will be May 5 and 6.


David Clohessy, SNAP (314 566 9790,, Pam Spees, CCR (212 614 6464,, Jen Nessell, CCR (212 614 6464,, Mary Caplan, SNAP (917 439 4187,, Barbara Dorris, SNAP (314 503 0003,, Barbara Blaine, SNAP (312 399 4747,


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  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-15 13:52:24 -0500
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    To all those who participated at the sidewalk news conference at St.Patrick’s yesterday, I truly hope that your efforts did not go unnoticed and that you were in fact, able to educate more catholic parishioners and the local public of the dire scandal that still engulfs the catholic church. Thank you, for your unending efforts.

    For myself, I find that this morning, I’m “battling” a personal sense of growing depression brought on by contemplating the scale of our task and enormity of the global c. church. I start to wonder if more than 3/4 of catholics in the world are in fact functionally illiterate. I also start to wonder as well, if 3/4 of the members of the global catholic church are too poor to be able to receive international news or internet broadcasts from a reliable source on a daily basis? The reason I’m even wondering about this, is that I think I would rather learn and know those things to be a fact about the majority of catholics, than to find out that the majority of catholics actually really do know this scandal is occurring both globally and daily, and yet, would rather feign lack of knowledge or disbelief of these ongoing crimes, or worse, accept these unGodly crimes as “an acceptable, cost of ‘doing business’ for the catholic church ”, than eradicate these horrible criminals from the priesthood of the catholic church.
    I’m wondering all of this because of hearing the current pope, admit, by virtue of his public, news-making request for forgiveness, admitting that there is in fact a terrible scourge of pedophile priests evilly perpetrating sexual violence against innocent catholic children and disabled adults; and thus acknowledging that these are priests who, in the past and to date, have been and are currently being tolerated and still are priests, and thus they have been and are being aided and abetted by the catholic hierarchy of pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, laity and employees, today. I am wondering how many of the members of the catholic church would KNOWINGLY ACCEPT this “status quo” of including active, pedophile rapists and torturers in the priesthood, as a “requirement” of remaining being a catholic?
    It’s literally difficult for me to imagine, that decent, ordinary men and women, especially those who are parents of young children, would knowingly “stay catholic” after learning of the depth and breadth of the sexual violence being committed globally, by catholic priests. And it is equally difficult for me to understand that after learning that the catholic congregation would accept giving the pope “forgiveness” for this horrible situation, rather than demanding that the church instead be defrocking and sending the offenders to the civil justice system of the diocese where they committed these crimes. I actually am shocked, particularly after reviewing the following passages in the Bible; Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2 that this pope would have the audacity to ask us as (Christian) catholics, to “forgive” them and him. Do the vast majority of catholics really believe these are forgivable acts, these crimes against humanity?! Even Christ, himself, did not tell us we should forgive these heinous crimes of the pedophile priests. Rather than forgiving such crimes and criminals, Christ said that it would be better for such a sinner to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be drown in the sea.
    I think I must ask myself, have most catholics never heard or read these particular words of Christ in the Bible? That seems almost as incredible to me, as it seemed to me when I first learned of the pervasiveness and massive scale of these particular crimes being committed within the global, catholic church.
    Even if the majority of people hadn’t heard or read those words, isn’t there a more pervasive, innate, common sense belief in decency, than evil? Lord knows that ordinary heterosexuals are more in number in the populations of the world, than there are pedophiles. Shouldn’t we decent people at least be able to come together to stop the pedophiles from using our church for the sole purpose of sexually victimizing innocents? I am with Christ on this issue. Forgiving the pedophile priests, as this current pope has asked us to do, would not stop the pedophile, predator priests.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-14 13:23:17 -0500
    To all who going to be part of this media event to announce the CCR filing on behalf of SNAP, to the UN C.A.Torture, I say THANK YOU!!!
    And, to David Clohessy, may I say, thank you as well for all your comments to the media regarding the Friday, April 11th “request for forgiveness” (forgiveness, for all these ongoing crimes by catholic clergy) by pope francis. I would also like to say however, to all of you, that perhaps we should all think of the pope’s comments and request as even worse than more dissembling and more trying to completely “dodge” the issue, but also in fact, perhaps rather, another attempt AT INTIMIDATION of victims and their supporters, again trying to put forward “reasoning” to “tell” (or, read: INTIMIDATE) victims to stop pursuing the END TO these crimes. Again, I say, SHAME ON HIM AND ALL OF THEM!
    Personally, I would be glad if all the protestors also had written on their posters at such media events as these, the following words and numbers:
    MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 and LUKE 17:2 ,
    because these heinous catholic pedophiles have actually caused and forced these innocent children to be part of these heinous crimes, which is what, after all, makes the children and disabled adults, victims. Personally, I think all convicted pedophiles should feel “lucky” if they have not been given the death penalty, and I think that catholic clergy who are offending pedophiles are so intent on remaining undiscovered, is because they know full well that, more than just being “de-frocked”, they should be convicted and put to death for their heinous crimes.

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