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February 12, 2014
UN to Vatican: Your Theology Violates Child Rights
By now the Committee on the Rights of the Child (“Committee”), which is charged with overseeing the implementation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), has made so many exaggerated claims of authority that they can’t even shock us anymore. Well, until they do.
Last month the Committee issued its review of CRC implementation by the Holy See, the political entity of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. While the extreme leftist agenda of the Committee has never been much of a secret, it is on display at its most egregious in this “Concluding Observations” report.
The key issues of “concern” for the Committee were as one might expect: abortion, teen sexuality, homosexuality (and homosexual marriage), corporal punishment (spanking), and parental rights. According to Catholic Church doctrine, abortion is the murder of an unborn child; sex is intended only within the confines of marriage; homosexual activity or lifestyle is a sin; a moderate spanking is – or can be - a part of godly discipline; and parents have the ultimate God-given responsibility for their children.
But the Committee disagrees on all points. What’s more, they communicated the expectation that the Catholic Church must change its stance on all of these topics to comply with the Convention. In so doing, the Committee placed its own opinion above the Scriptures, traditions, and religious convictions of the Catholic Church.
Regarding abortion, the Committee calls for the Holy See to put a stop to the use of “baby boxes” in Europe. These boxes allow a mother in crisis to anonymously give up her infant for adoption. According to the report, such efforts violate “children’s right to live with their parents and to know their identity.” Instead, “[t]he Committee urges the Holy See to contribute to addressing the abandonment of babies by providing family planning (UN code for abortion and birth control), reproductive health, as well as adequate counseling and social support, to prevent unplanned pregnancies….” In essence, the Committee’s “fix” for a child who cannot identify his birth parents is to simply have no child at all – a position antithetical to Catholic pro-life doctrine.
On the issue of sexuality, the Committee calls on the Holy See “to support efforts at [the] international level for the decriminalization of homosexuality,” and to “recognize the diversity of family settings” (which is code for granting legitimacy to homosexual unions). It also demands that the Holy See use its influence to “overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality,” while spreading “information on the harm [of] early marriage.” But the support of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle is in direct conflict with Catholic theology, as is the promotion of sexual intimacy (homo- or hetero-) outside of marriage.
No problem, says the Committee. The Church should simply grant “the Convention’s precedence over internal laws and regulations.” Both Canon Law and the Catholic Church’s interpretation of Scripture are specifically mentioned in the report as among the “internal laws” that should be changed to comply with the Convention. (Paragraph 12: “[T]he Committee regrets that the same approach has not been followed in relation to its internal laws, including Canon Law.” Paragraph 40(d): “[E]nsure that an interpretation of Scripture as not condoning corporal punishment is reflected in Church teaching and other activities and incorporated into all theological education and training.”)
To their credit, “the Holy See still does not consider corporal punishment as being prohibited by the Convention,” likely because no provision of the Convention says otherwise, and because only 25 of the 192 states parties to the Convention have laws against modest spankings in the home as a form of discipline (most of which adopted these laws in response to the browbeating of the Committee). Yet the Committee not only dismisses the view of the Holy See, but also attempts to dictate to the Catholic Church how its Scriptures should be interpreted.
This adds frightful undertones to its admonition as “The Committee…reminds the Holy See that by ratifying the Convention, it has committed itself to implementing the Convention…through individuals and institutions placed under its authority,” and that they must “ensure the Convention’s precedence over internal laws and regulations.” In essence, the U.N. claims the Holy See has an obligation to urge priests and teachers to follow the tenets of this Committee rather than the doctrines of the Scriptures.
The Committee’s interpretation of the Convention has never even been sanctioned by the nations of the U.N., yet now it ranks higher in the Catholic Church than “the Word of God?” And just to give it teeth, the Committee urges the Holy See to “ratify the core human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party, namely the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure….” (i.e. a complaint mechanism).
Also to their credit, the Holy See holds “that civil authorities should intervene in the family setting only in cases where a proven abuse has been committed in order not to interfere with the duties and rights of parents.” Again the Committee takes issue, claiming “that prerogatives of the parents should in no way undermine children’s right to be protected from abuse and neglect.” But this is not an either…or, and we are not talking about prerogatives. We are talking about the right of parents to make decisions for their own children, absent abuse or neglect. Innocent parents and their children share a right to familial privacy and integrity – something the Committee apparently denies.
The United States Supreme Court once wrote that “The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.” Parham v. J.R. 442 U.S. 584 (1979). Yet that is the very notion being set forth by this over-reaching U.N. Committee.
Proponents of U.N. Human Rights treaties in the U.S. Senate would have us believe that these conventions do not bind American law or limit U.S. sovereignty. But the Committee responsible for overseeing implementation of this treaty holds a very different view.
In its defense of parental rights, the Holy See has expressed concern that Article 12 of the Convention, on the right of the child to express their views in all matters affecting them, and to have their views given due weight, “undermin[es] the rights and duties of parents,” a concern which we share. This vague “right” can easily be used by government actors to override the decisions of any parent anytime their child disagrees with said decision. But the Committee asserts “that ensuring this right is a legal obligation under the Convention, which leaves no leeway for the discretion of the States parties.” (emphasis added)
It only makes sense, if the Committee’s view supersedes the text of the Convention ratified by 192 nations, the opinion of the Holy See, and even the foundational scriptures of the Catholic Church, that it would “leave no leeway for the discretion” of the United States, either.
Which is one more powerful reason to reject this and any similar treaty.
Fortunately, the proposed Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution will de-authorize the Senate and the President from ever ratifying any treaty that, like the CRC, would pose a threat to the right of innocent parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children in accordance with their own conscience and religious belief. This should be very welcome news for anyone who believes their religious tenets – regardless of which faith they hold – should not be held captive by an 18-member panel of “experts” on “child rights.”
If you have not already done so, please sign the petition now at parentalrights.org/petition to promote the adoption of the Parental Rights Amendment. You can also support our cause to protect religious liberty and parental rights with your donation at parentalrights.org/donate. Finally, you can take an active part in our efforts by signing the up at parentalrights.org/volunteer.
The more authority the U.N. seeks to grab from parents and pro-family institutions, the more important it is that we all stand together. Only then can we preserve our freedoms for the next generation.
Director of Communications & Research
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