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UN Report Says Catholic Church Should Change Doctrine

February 5, 2014 -- Delphi

The UN committee that monitors the rights of children asked that the Church should change its teaching on abortion and homosexuality following a year-long review of the Vatican's child protection practices. The committee also asked that the Church should no longer automatically excommunicate those who perform or assist in the performance of an abortion.

Following are pertinent paragraphs from the report. The full report is available at: the second periodic report of the Holy See

27. With reference to its previous concern on gender-based discrimination (CRC/C/15/Add.46, para. 8), the Committee regrets that the Holy See continues to place emphasis on the promotion of complementarity and equality in dignity, two concepts which differ from equality in law and practice provided for in article 2 of the Convention and are often used to justify discriminatory legislation and policies. The Committee also regrets that the Holy See did not provide precise information on the measures taken to promote equality between girls and boys and to remove gender stereotypes from Catholic schools textbooks as requested by the Committee in 1995.

28. The Committee urges the Holy See to adopt a rights-based approach to address discrimination between girls and boys and refrain from using terminology that could challenge equality between girls and boys. The Committee also urges the Holy See to take active measures to remove from Catholic schools textbooks all gender stereotyping which may limit the development of the talents and abilities of boys and girls and undermine their educational and life opportunities.

Respect for the views of the child
31. The Committee is concerned that the Holy See restrictively interprets children's right to express their views in all matters affecting them, as well as their rights to freedom of expression, association and religion. The Committee is also concerned that the Holy See continues to view the rights enshrined in article 12 of the Convention as undermining the rights and duties of parents.

35. While welcoming the emphasis placed by the Holy See on children's right to live with their parents and to know their identity, the Committee is concerned about the continued practice of anonymous abandonment of babies organized by Catholic organizations in several countries through the use of the so-called "baby boxes".

40. The Committee reminds the Holy See that all forms of violence against children, however light, are unacceptable and that the Convention leaves no room for any level of violence against children. The Committee also reminds the Holy See of its obligation under article 19 of the Convention to take all appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.

50. The Committee welcomes the emphasis placed by the Holy See on the importance for the full and harmonious development of children's personality of growing up in a family environment. The Committee is however concerned about the situation of adolescents recruited by the Legion of Christ and other Catholic institutions who are progressively separated from their families and isolated from the outside world.

55. The Committee urges the Holy See to review its position on abortion which places obvious risks on the life and health of pregnant girls and to amend Canon 1398 relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted.

Adolescent health / HIV/AIDs
56. The Committee is seriously concerned about the negative consequences of the Holy See's position and practices of denying adolescents' access to contraception, as well as to sexual and reproductive health and information.

G. Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32-33, 35-36, 37 (b)-(d), 38, 39 and 40 of the Convention)
Sale, trafficking and abduction
58. The Committee is deeply concerned that thousands of babies have been forcibly withdrawn from their mothers by members of Catholic congregations in a number of countries and subsequently placed in orphanages or given to adoptive parents abroad, as was the case notably in Spain and in the Magdalene laundries in Ireland.

H. Ratification of international human rights instruments
62. The Committee recommends that the Holy See, in order to further strengthen the fulfilment of children's rights, ratify the core human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party .

I. Follow-up and dissemination
63. The Committee recommends that the Holy See take all appropriate measures to ensure that the present recommendations are fully implemented by, inter alia, transmitting them to the Pope, the Curia, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Catholic Health Care Institutions, the Pontifical Council for the Family as well as episcopal conferences of bishops, individuals and institutions functioning under the authority of the Holy See for appropriate consideration and further action.

J. Next report
66. The Committee invites the State party to submit its combined third to sixth periodic report by 1 September 2017 and to include in it information on the implementation of the present concluding observations. The Committee draws attention to its harmonized treaty-specific reporting guidelines adopted on 1 October 2010 (CRC/C/58/Rev.2 and Corr. 1) and reminds the State party that future reports should be in compliance with the guidelines and not exceed 60 pages. The Committee urges the State party to submit its report in accordance with the guidelines.

UN document -- 31 January 2014 -- ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

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