UN names church for what it is: a rogue state

By Brenda O'Connor

09 FEBRUARY 2014

WE CAN tend to outrage fatigue when it comes to reports about the crimes committed within the Catholic Church in recent years. So when the UN Committee on the Rights of Children reported last week on its ongoing engagement with the Catholic Church regarding the rights of children within the Vatican and the Holy See, many people will have been tempted to ignore it.

After all, there wasn't much new in it. The church has a history of trafficking babies, of discriminating against children based on their sexuality or that of their parents, and of allowing children to be abused, of protecting their abusers from the law, of moving abusers around –allowing them to abuse again, and when it came to abuse, of "consistently placing the preservation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children's best interests". The church has even protected priests from their own children, denying children the right to know the identity of their fathers and "only agreeing payments from the church until the child is financially independent only if they [the mothers] sign a confidentiality agreement not to disclose any information".

We knew all that stuff already, didn't we?

Except it is a little different this time. Because previously our engagement with the church has tended to stay within the family. There has been an emotional attachment that has clouded the issue for us. Because there is always a sense, in this country, that everyone was complicit in all this because, after all, we are, or were, the church.

And because the church was so intermingled with the State here, and with the provision of health, education and welfare, the crimes themselves became intermingled with social norms of the time and so on.

So the Magdalene laundries scandal was viewed not just as a church scandal but as all of our shame. In short, in Ireland, the blame has tended to be spread.

That's why the latest UN report is important, because it takes all that baggage out of it and treats the church as what it is – a de facto state, geographically dispersed throughout the world certainly, but a metaphysical and legal entity, and therefore, "a sovereign subject of international law having an original non derived legal personality independent of any territorial authority of jurisdiction."

While some will argue about the Vatican's claim to statehood, the UN uses the church's claim to independent statehood against it. The UN is basically treating the Holy See as a state, subject to the same duties and responsibilities as other states. And what the UN finds is a rogue state.

Read more here. 

Showing 1 comment

  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-02-10 16:26:32 -0600
    I couldn’t help reading this article, aloud…to myself! I admit, I was so taken with what I perceive as O’Connor’s clarity, and description of the crux of the whole, horrible current situation (that of pedophile priests, laity and the “holy see’s” long-standing denial of responsibility for abetting same and for the church’s non-resolution of such heinous crimes being (what certainly, now must be, openly acknowledged as being) committed in vast numbers.

    Until reading the comments already posted to this article, I honestly believed that most adults of integrity and possessing an informed interest in the situation, believed that these crimes are currently being committed in, if not all then nearly all, catholic churches around the world, and that the history of what occurred in the Magdalene Laundries as it has been told, was realistically described.

    I am actually shocked to read so many responses by people who still belittle the victims, or fully deny that these crimes have happened. And, it appears that these doubters actually don’t believe that these pedophile priests and laity are still attacking their prey within the confines of the church and that this is still occurring, primarily because of the vatican’s and pope’s abetting such pedophiles.

    Still, I am encouraged by the number of responses reported and written elsewhere, and also reported and written in the report of the UN Committee, of those good people who are opposed, along with much of the rest of this world, to the catholic leaders denying culpability and responsibility for these heinous crimes.

    I think it would almost be tantamount to supporting the actions of the Nazis of WWII if the rest of the world did not insist on change and begin holding the vatican accountable, now. Thankfully, I believe that there is a mounting number, a groundswell of people who are calling for the cessation of the catholic church enabling and harboring such criminals in our countries. And, we are not “going away”. I’m reminded of an old, WWII song, sung by the Allies, called “Over There”, wherein, we sing “And we’re not coming back, ‘til it’s OVER, over there!!!!!!”

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