Amnesty International has cited the Vatican in a new report on human rights violations, alleging that it “did not sufficiently comply” with laws “relating to the protection of children.” The Catholic League says the charge represents ideological axe-grinding, from an organization that has lost Church support.
“This is ideology at work, not objective research,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. “Coming up empty with cases of abuse that occurred last year, (Amnesty) decided to adopt a 'look-back' strategy, one that is exclusively applied to the Catholic Church.”
Amnesty's 2011 Annual Report charges the Holy See with human rights violations for “child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy over the past decades,” and what it describes as “the enduring failure of the Catholic Church to address these crimes properly.”
Donohue said it was “preposterous” for Amnesty to “hold the Vatican responsible for the behavior of priests all over the world,” a responsibility that belongs to local bishops according to Catholic teaching.
He also observed that the “vast majority” of abuse cases “occurred between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s, having nothing to do with any alleged culpability on the part of the Holy See in 2010.”
“The Annual Report on the other 156 nations details human rights violations that occurred in 2010,” Donohue observed, noting that the report “lists not a single instance of a human rights violation that took place anywhere in the world in 2010 under the auspices of the Holy See.”
Yet Amnesty “still managed to condemn its human rights record,” the Catholic League president reflected. “So what's going on?”
Amnesty's motivation may derive partly from its own loss of Catholic support in recent years. The organization, founded by a Catholic convert, was once favored in many quarters of the Church for its opposition to torture and the death penalty.
But the group has lost significant support from Catholics, and drawn criticisms from bishops, for its 2007 decision to support universal access to abortion as a “human right.” The group has also begun advocating strongly for same-sex “marriage.”
In 2007, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, said Amnesty had “betrayed its mission” of promoting human rights by endorsing abortion.