TORONTO, ON February 6, 2014 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which accused the Vatican of systematically covering up child sexual abuse and called for changes to Church attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change Canon Law. The report was issued after hearings in Geneva last month at which Vatican officials testified.

“We deplore all instances of child sexual abuse and support the rights of victims in these cases,” said League President Philip Horgan. “We also are encouraged by the improvements that have been made in the reporting and processing of such cases within the Church in recent years, and find it unfortunate that the UN report appears to have taken no account of these improvements, which in many dioceses have led to protocols stricter than those found in schools, youth groups, sports associations and other groups where youth may be at risk.

“And the report’s authors move beyond their competency when they request changes to Church teachings and Canon Law. Church teaching is within the sole governance of the Church, and to suggest otherwise is to seriously infringe upon religious freedom,” said Mr. Horgan.

The committee issued its recommendations after subjecting the Holy See to a daylong interrogation last month on its implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the key U.N. treaty on child protection, which the Holy See ratified in 1990.

It called for Pope Francis’ nascent abuse commission, which was announced in December, to conduct an independent investigation of all cases of priestly abuse and the way the Catholic hierarchy has responded over time, and urged the Holy See to establish clear rules for the mandatory reporting of abuse to police and to support laws that allow victims to report crimes even after the statute of limitations has expired.

–    Report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, issued February 5, 2014
–    League President Phil Horgan discusses report on CTV Newschannel
–   BBC Interview with Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, of Salt and Light Catholic Television
–    CFAM petition in support of the Vatican at the UN

The Catholic Church has made many strides over the past 30 years, in most of the world’s jurisdictions, particularly in Canada, to address the problems of sexual abuse of children, including repentance, and provision of remedies to victims.  The Church has mandated better reporting and internal governance efforts.  Those developments do not appear to be included in the UN report.  Instead, there are improper references to unfounded claims of abuse, such as the “Magdalene Laundries” in Ireland, which were discounted by an Irish government report in 2013.  The reliance on anti-Catholic opinion is alarming coming from a UN body.  The suggestion that the Church must change its teachings, when those teachings, if followed, would serve to negate any such abuse, is equally troubling. 
The League reiterates that the tragic circumstances of any instance of abuse are deplorable and must be rooted out.  However, the recent UN report appears to be ideologically driven, fails to account for efforts addressing those issues over the past number of years, and unfairly overreaches with its proposals for change.

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;