UN Attacks Catholic Teaching Under the Pretext of Protecting Children

In their continuing quest to marginalize the influence of the Catholic Church on the culture war issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is attempting to resurrect yet again the moral panic surrounding exaggerated claims of clerical sexual abuse. Denouncing the Vatican for adopting policies that “allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children,” the UN Committee demanded that the Church hand over its archives on sexual abuse of children so that the culprits, as well as those who concealed their crimes, could be held accountable.

Ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church has already handed over the files—and the culprits—the UN Committee took the opportunity to criticize the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception, and abortion. This was the real reason for the Committee’s diatribe against the now decades-old clerical abuse scandal—a scandal with wildly exaggerated claims and unsubstantiated allegations.

The reality is that counter to inflated statistics of “tens of thousands” of child-victims, and the image of the alliterative “pedophile priest,” nearly all of the cases of sexual abuse by priests involved homosexual liaisons between priests and very young men in their teens or early 20s. While homosexual activities with minors are criminal offenses, and immoral, they are certainly not examples of pedophilia or child molestation.

Undeterred by data, the United Nations Committee ignores the fact that Catholic clergy are not represented in the sexual abuse phenomenon at a rate higher than or even equal to their numbers in the clerical profession as a whole.  In a comprehensive study of more than 20 years of data on clerical abuse, Philip Jenkins, the Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor, and author of Pedophiles and Priests, found no evidence that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination.

Jenkins points out that the worst cases have involved non-Catholics—and non-celibate clergy: “One Canadian Anglican diocese was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of massive lawsuits caused by decades of systematic abuse, yet the Anglican church does not even demand celibacy of its clergy.”

However, there are structural reasons that the Catholic Church has produced a number of nationally—and internationally—reported cases. Unlike a scandal in a Protestant congregation for instance, which would remain strictly localized because of the decentralized nature of that church, a scandal in a local Catholic Church, because of the hierarchy in which it exists, immediately is viewed as a “Vatican” scandal.

But, more important than these structural reasons, there are powerful cultural reasons that have combined to encourage the promotion of a panic over pedophile priests.  This is the real reason that the United Nations Committee continues to try to fan the flames of the moral panic over the pedophile priest.  For more than four decades, progressives have been engaged in a battle with the Catholic hierarchy over issues including abortion, sexual morality and homosexuality. The re-manufactured image of the pedophile priest and his craven bishop who has covered up his despicable deeds points to the need for a “new and improved” Catholic Church. Progressives want a Church that is created in their image—one in which the laity gets to choose its own leaders and decide its own doctrines.

It is likely that the panic will continue—not because there will be more abuse cases, rather, because there are so many with so much to gain by keeping the panic alive.  For feminists lobbying for abortion rights and women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, the image they have created of the pedophile priest points to the need for women to fill those roles and create feminist friendly doctrine on contraception and abortion.  For gay rights activists, intent on denouncing what they view as the Church’s hypocrisy on gay sexuality, maintaining the moral panic surrounding the pedophile priest offers a strong argument that the sexual repression of gay priests has led directly to the molestation of children.  And, for the United Nations Committee re-creating the image of the pedophile priest helps them to make their argument for access to sexuality and full reproductive rights—including abortion—for children and adolescents.

Indeed, the UN Committee which claims to want to “protect children” now demands that the Church “amend Canon 1398 relating to abortion,” and directs the Church to reassess “the serious implications of its position on adolescents’ enjoyment of highest attainable standard of health and overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality.”

In other words, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is now lobbying the Catholic Church for the “Right of the Child” to enjoy access to unrestricted sexual behavior. Isn’t this exactly how a small percentage of Catholic clergy got in trouble to begin with?  Every investigation of the clergy abuse scandal—including the John Jay study—revealed that the clergy abuse scandal was primarily about a small number of priests having sexual relations with adolescent boys.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has no authority to enforce any of its recommendations.  The Church should ignore it.

Anne Hendershott


Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).

  • Bemkapeace

    Well said. Such was the only conclusion I also arrived at after reading the report.

  • Jonathan Toborowsky

    Wasn’t there a report, about a year ago or so, about the sexual abuse committed by UN peacekeeping troops in the places they were sent to “protect”? Seems odd that they are showing righteous indignation at the Holy See over something they themselves can’t stop within their own house.

    • fredx2

      There was. I suggest that the Vatican respond to the report by asking a few pointed questions of the UN. Why is the UN protecting child abusers? This has been known since the 1990’s, yet nothing at all has been done.
      From Wikipedia:

      In the 1996 U.N. study The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, former first lady of Mozambique Graça Machel documented: “In 6 out of 12 country studies on sexual exploitation of children in situations of armed conflict prepared for the present report, the arrival of peacekeeping troops has been associated with a rapid rise in child prostitution.” [3]

      Eight years later, Gita Sahgal spoke out with regard to the fact that prostitution and sex abuse crops up wherever humanitarian intervention efforts are set up. She observed: “The issue with the UN is that peacekeeping operations unfortunately seem to be doing the same thing that other militaries do. Even the guardians have to be guarded.”[4]

      Involvement in brothels

      There was one highly publicised case where members of the UN peacekeeping force were accused of direct involvement in the procurement of sex slaves for a local brothel in Bosnia. The use of agents for procurement and management of brothels has allowed the military to believe itself shielded from the issue of sexual slavery and human trafficking.[citation needed] Some NATO troops have been linked to prostitution and forced prostitution in Bosnia and Kosovo, as have some UN employees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they were accused of the sexual abuse of underage girls.[5][6]


      Peacekeepers ‘abusing children’


      Meanwhile, in other news:

      U.N. Commission Calls for Legalizing Prostitution Worldwide : http://cnsnews.com/news/article/un-commission-calls-legalizing-prostitution-worldwide#sthash.6sVhb2gu.dpuf

      And the UN Human Rights commission? Made up of some of the worst human rights abusers in the world:

      “Excusing, glossing over or simply ignoring the violations of some of the worst abusers, the Council, as noted by a Geneva-based non-governmental organization, UN Watch, has devoted more than 80% of its country resolutions to condemning Israel, while “eroding free speech protections in the name of Islamic sensitivities and steadily eliminating country investigations in places like Belarus, Congo, Cuba, Liberia and Sudan.”

  • thebigdog

    When the United Nations spins its wheel of outrage, it lands on Israel about 80% of the time. Apparently the other 20% is to keep Christians in line… good to see that they are happy with the Muslim world though.

    Seriously, if the U.N. couldn’t prevent the genocide in Rwanda, does it have any value at all?

    • Adam__Baum

      “..does it have any value at all?”

      A giant golden calf. We really haven’t advanced much since Exodus. The old temple arts were the work of metal smiths with hammers, today we have diplomats (the pettiest of bureaucrats) with word processors.

    • Almario Javier

      Well, it provides a forum to vent out national hatreds of each other in lieu of war…

  • Salvelinus

    Homosexuality is the problem with the pederast problem in the first place… now the evul UN wants more widespread homosexuality?! Ah, the fruits of VII

  • AcceptingReality

    Wonderfully concise article full of clarity! Let me get this straight, under the guise of protecting children the UN wants the Catholic Church to sanction the murdering of children in the womb? Just what do they want to protect them from? Being born?

  • Jhawk77

    If the U.N. wanted another reason for the general public to disregard just about everything it says, this certainly is one.

  • ROB

    This Committee is a spiritual descendent of the Know Nothings and Ku Kluxers. As are GLAD and SNAP. We should take our cue from John Hughes and oppose them on every front. Are you listening Cardinal Dolan?

  • I find it endlessly entertaining that the people who most decry clergy abuse, are the ones who want to abuse children.

  • jenn desales

    Thank you!

  • hombre111

    Spin and spin. The hierarchy gave the UN the opportunity to question the integrity of the Church by failing to face the sex abuse scandal until the facts were on the news and their feet were to the fire. And even then, some American bishops dithered, the bishops in Europe thought it was only an American problem, and Pope John Paul was giving the contemptible Marciel Maciel his blessing. We really, really have egg on our faces, and it does not help to huff and puff in righteous indignation because the UN is calling the Church to account for its failures.

    • Adam__Baum

      You are intolerable as you are predictable.

      • hombre111

        As a son of the Church, I am with her to the end.

        • Adam__Baum

          Then stop holding her up to public ridicule and scandal. Of course I think your little sinecure plays a part in this as well.

        • thebigdog

          Like a limp-wristed prideful anchor.

        • Objectivetruth

          It’s baffling that you have faith and trust in the Church to teach you that God became man, walked on water, rose from the dead. But whe the same Church teaches that something like contraception is immoral, you lose that faith and trust.

          • Adam__Baum

            Grand Slam.

            • Objectivetruth

              Pitchers and catchers, reporting next week…….

              • Adam__Baum

                Ahhh… soon the sound of cracking wood, popping leather…

          • Guest

            Accepting those things do not bother people because it costs them nothing. Few reject the hypostatic union, but gender and sexuality are different. It is not that following Church teaching will make them feel guilty it is that following Church teaching gives them unfulfilled desires.

    • Objectivetruth

      Don’t you back the Church on anything? Now go pick a Protestant denomination, you have 30,000 to choose from.

      • hombre111

        I back the Church on everything it teaches but: 1) Its treatment of women. 2) Its teachings about birth control. 3) Its teachings about gays. 4) Its exclusion of lay people from true authority. 5) Compulsive celibacy. (I think celibacy is great if it is discerned as a true gift. Forced celibacy is the result of manipulation, and is tainted from the start).

        • Adam__Baum

          I back the Church on everything except the number of Sacraments, the economy of salvation and the finality and sufficiency of Scripture….

          -M. Luther.

        • redfish

          “Forced celibacy is the result of manipulation, and is tainted from the start”

          Nobody is forced to become a priest. I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not one to lecture Catholics on what disciplines their Church should have, but I think the larger problem is that secular culture teaches people that celibacy is a form of self-punishment. That’s a message that needs to be combated.

          • Adam__Baum

            .” I’m not a Catholic,”

            If that typifies your thinking, clear, coherent and concise, I wish you were.

        • Objectivetruth

          Hombre111, you’re at risk of shepherding your flock off of a cliff….

          “Roma locuta est, causa finita est!”

        • Arriero

          «1) Its treatment of women.»

          Which is absolutely respectful, admirable, correct and beautiful. Did you ever heard about the Virgin Mary? She was the mother of God, and devoutly praised and admired by any good Catholic. Post-modernism is a cancer for women. Intelligent women already have noticed it. They don’t need false lawyers. There’s nothing worse for an honorable woman than a resented feminist who tries to fight for who knows which invented pseudo-rights.

          «2) Its teachings about birth control.»

          Don’t call it birth control, better call it eugenesics, which embraces better the nihilistic nature of such ideas. Those ideas were first developed in the old Sparta – the enemy of the succesful and democratic Athens -; later put into fashion by resented racists from the Enlightment and eventually executed by those dirty spirits that were Hitler and Stalin. Under a new and washed face – through equally harmful – it came again with the pseudo-protestant post-modern XXIth spirit

          «3) Its teachings about gays.»

          More of the same. Hate the sin, not the sinner. St. Agustine. Period. What you would like to hear? What you would like the Church to say? A Church à la carte? That was the case of protestantism.

          «4) Its exclusion of lay people from true authority.»

          Exclusion? Exclusion and Church form and oxymoron. Church and Authority form a pleonasm.

          «5) Compulsive celibacy.»

          Celbacy is or it is not. There are no means. Or it exist, or it doesn’t exist.

          Easy, isn’t it?

        • DD

          Joking? You bind yourself to Christ through His Church except when you don’t? That is absurd.

        • Hombre666

          Good work!

  • Arriero

    The UN is a joke.

    The majority of the time they don’t know what they’re talking about, the rest of the time nobody pays attention to what they’re indeed talking about.

    The worst is that it costs money, from every of us through our respective governments.

    Yet, this does not mean that the members of the Church has to clean her from any anti-Catholic wave within (the Church in hersef is never wrong, only people is wrong). Sinners have to pay, on Heaven and on earth.

    • Adam__Baum

      “it costs money, from every of us through our respective governments.”

      It costs some more than others.

      • Arriero

        And as usually happens with money: to the victor goes the spoils.

        Let’s see if those in the UN are able to eventually convert, to convert to the True Faith and stop their envious attack and stupid chatter to a real Institution, one written in capital letters, the Catholic Church.

        Peace, justice, beauty, goodness and truth has no sense out from the Church. Who listens to this UN?

        «HE BUILT THE CHAPEL» http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn6w255CGkk

  • slainte

    It might make sense to know the names and backgrounds of the persons who sit on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to better understand their motivation for attacking the Vatican. Details matter.

    • Adam__Baum

      Like most territorial animals, when it seeks new territory, the first thing it does is drive off the prior occupant and kill its offspring.

      • slainte

        But every predator has identifiable facilitators….who are they?
        It’s counter-intuitive to just use a broad brush, cryptic description like “the UN”.
        History instructs that the best defense is a good offense; thus the Vatican must know precisely with whom it is at war.

        • Adam__Baum

          The UN is a pack predator, this particular committee is just one of the wolves nipping at the moose’s legs.

          Have you ever seen one of those nature documentaries? The pack picks a target, with each member taking a shot, not at a severing bite of the spinal cord or puncturing the lungs, just a low risk nip that expends the prey’s energy. They nip at it relentlessly-it’s the lupine equivalent of the death of a thousand cuts.

  • cestusdei

    The UN peacekeepers were noted for their child abuse. Abortion is the worst form of child abuse. The UN has nothing to teach us.

  • WalterPaulKomarnicki

    why are the UN bureaucrats not themselves accountable for the outbreak of cholera in Haiti? Even the secretary-general stonewalls any such question. Seems a tad hypocritial.

  • WalterPaulKomarnicki

    like the gutless peacekeepers in Srebrenica just before the massacre of 8,000 men and boys…

  • Andrew Carlan

    Accurate. I read a study years ago by an insurer whose main business was insuring many protestant denominations that (obviously) don’t require celibacy) and found abuses higher, especially among the telepreachers) than in the Catholic scandal even at the height of the abusing, which does not–in my mind–acquit those bishops who hid the problem.
    But why even bother with the UN, which allowed Zimbabwe and like-minded countries on its “human rights” organization but banned Israel for all its faults. It’s a waste of time, like trying to convince Hitler that the Jews were not Germany’s problem.

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  • kcthomas

    Let the U.N. Committee be told that they need not be our conscience keepers. The Catholic Church knows what is right and what is wrong and it will deal with failures accordingly.The Catholic Church is not ready to change its moral teachings just to accommodate the U.N. thoughts of sexual permissiveness.All the members of the Committee may be anti catholic and godless secularists who have an agenda to molest Catholicism

  • Mancipium Mariae

    Thanks for a very clear and uplifting attitude. I love the ending line calling us to ignore them. But while we do so, let us do all we can to clean up this mess and avoid something like this from happening again. God bless you.

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  • Thag Jones

    Why don’t you mention the sexual abuse that goes on in government schools – often perpetrated by women, who we’ve been brainwashed to trust more than men. Is it easier to attack other churches and say “them too!” like a child in the playground than to attack the government and its precious indoctrination centres?

  • Vinnie

    If you’re interested, check ParentsRights.org

  • John O’Neill

    The UN is a creature of the American Left. The American Left true to its Protestant roots has always hated the Catholic Church. Q.E.D,

    • Andrew Carlan

      Things have changed. no Protestant in his right mind thinks the Pope is the anti-Christ. Evangelicals and Southern Baptists are with the Church on social issues. It is the mainline Protestant churches that are the offshoot of Progressivism and they are fast disappearing

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  • D bran

    Maybe we better be looking in other places to protect kids.

    published from Misty-United the Year of Faith.

    You can’t get more facts than this my friends.

    Why do so many cases of child molestation occur within the Catholic church?

    Actually there aren’t “so many” it only appears so because of how all these cases (many decades old) came to light all at the same time. This was because they lifted the statute of limitations on sex abuse allegations. So it appeared that suddenly the Catholic Church was swamped with child molesters, but that is actually not the case.

    In reality Protestant ministers have been convicted of pedophilia at a rate of 10% ccompared to 1.7% of Catholic priests. Over all the largest group of child molesters are fathers and step-fathers.

    There are many child molesters in the world, unfortunately. They tend to get jobs and situations that put them near children. Catholic priests don’t become child molesters, some child molesters choose to become Catholic priests in order to gain access to children. They also become youth ministers, day care workers, school employees, etc. etc.

    The media is more interested in reporting on Catholic sex abuse because of the nature of the Catholic priest’s position. They are celibate men who take a vow before God, in an organization that is 2000 years old and tied directly to Christ. This make any sins of Catholic priests interesting, the more perverted the more interesting…sadly so.

    But here are some websites I hope you check out because they show that the problem is far from a Catholic one.














    Nothing excuses the abuse of another human being. No matter Catholic priest or school teacher, the misuse of another person, especially a child, is monstrous. The Catholic Church never condoned such acts, nor was it ever a “passtime.”

    Unfortunately, there are bad people out there and some of them used the priesthood to further their perversions.