WASHINGTON – Experts denounced the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's recent report in which it suggested the Catholic Church alter its positions on fornication, contraception, homosexuality, and abortion. The report, they said, is an attack on the Catholic Church and an overreach of U.N. power.
While the committee's report emphasized the Catholic Church's clerical sexual abuse scandals, it also called on the Vatican state to alter its positions on other, unconnected moral issues. The Geneva report criticized the Vatican's opposition to contraception, homosexuality, and abortion in cases of child rape and incest.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), called the panel's report "a dagger to the heart of motherhood," and denounced it as an overreach of U.N. power. "A treaty-monitoring organization has told a religion to change its teaching on fundamental issues," Ruse declared at a Family Research Council panel on Wednesday.
Travis Weber, director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, argued that this decision weakens the credibility of the United Nations' system for adjudicating human rights. "When rights are read into a treaty without the consent of nations, the entire system loses credibility," Weber argued.
Pat Fagan, senior fellow and director of FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, carefully compared the report to Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," an attack against Jews throughout Nazi Germany. Fagan emphasized that this connection is loose. "This is not a Kristallnacht, but it is a breaking of windows," he explained, "because it makes very clear what the agenda is."
"This is a violation of religious freedom, and this targeting of the Catholic Church makes eminent sense for the radical Left," Fagan declared. He argued that an international movement for the causes of abortion and same-sex marriage, among others, targeted the Catholic Church due to its clear stance on morality. "The Catholic Church is known internationally as a source for being clear on what is right and wrong for men."
Fagan warned that "if the Catholic Church can suffer this indignity without any response, the radical Left has gained massive yardage" in the fight against religious freedom.
The MARRI director attacked the U.N. treaty on the Rights of the Child for violating the rights of parents. "It is a fundamental universal human right to transmit your religious and moral beliefs to your child while he is a minor," Fagan declared.
Ruse agreed, arguing that the document gives the child religious liberty and "free access to information from every source," two provisions which make it impossible for parents to protect their children from a host of dangers on the Internet. In addition to these violations, already in the original treaty which the Vatican signed, the commission also requested it change its positions on other issues.
A Non-Binding Resolution
The U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child ordered the Vatican to reconsider its positions on numerous issues, from spanking to "the diversity of family settings" – a reference to homosexual adoption – and even fornication. "The church has to overcome taboos on adolescent sexuality," Ruse quoted from the report.
The report, however, is completely unbinding, the speakers agreed. The declarations of the commission are "not decisions in any way, shape, or form," Ruse explained. "They are comments and suggestions which governments are free to ignore." He also emphasized that the committee members do not represent the various countries which nominated them to serve. "Only individuals could do something so crazy."
"This report has no binding effect," Weber agreed. "It's almost as if it's just one step further than one voice telling the Catholic Church what to do."
Nevertheless, each panelist argued that it is important for the Catholic Church to respond, and for other groups to join in their attack on this report. "We have to build upon layers of response in order to prepare for attacks years from now," Weber argued.
"You have a very long-term battle going on about fundamental issues of humankind," Fagan declared. He argued that the activists for gay marriage and abortion "love a reasonable response because they have no interest in discourse but in popular messaging." They aim to elicit mocking and derision in order to defame their enemies, Fagan argued. To them, "this is an occasion by which they can humiliate the Catholic Church."
Even so, Fagan suggested a response through different groups. He argued that nations with a concern for the family – both those from Christian and Muslim traditions – should join together to oppose these attacks. "I would also call upon the United States Council on International Religious Freedom" to list the U.N. International Commission on Human Rights as a threat to religious freedom, he added.
"This is a gift from God because it highlights how crazy and radical these committees are," Fagan stressed. He argued that the Catholic Church and other organizations, including Congress, should take this opportunity to denounce U.N. overreach.