MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti) – Vatican representatives on Monday sought to limit the Catholic Church’s responsibility for the global priest sex abuse scandal, claiming it hasn’t violated a UN convention against inhuman or degrading treatment.
It is the second time the Vatican has been grilled over possible violations of the UN Convention Against Torture, which it ratified in 2002. Vatican representatives testified before the United Nations and asserted the Holy See’s responsibility extends to the territory of the Vatican only, not the entire globe.
“The Holy See intends to focus exclusively on the Vatican City State,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s UN ambassador in Geneva was quoted as saying by the AP. “State authorities are obligated to protect and, when necessary, to prosecute persons under their jurisdiction,” he told the committee.
Thus the Vatican admits its responsibility to implement the convention within the confines of the world’s tiniest state, Vatican City, with an area of less than half a square-kilometer in size and a population fewer than 1,000 inhabitants.
The Vatican’s chief spokesman Federico Lombardi claimed last week that the Convention was one of the most important in the UN. He also reaffirmed the Holy See’s “strong commitment against any form of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The questioning is to last until Tuesday.
A UN inquiry in February ordered the Holy See to open its files on clerics who “concealed their crimes.”
The Vatican has been dogged by a number of scandals recently – clerical sex abuse, alleged corruption in the Vatican Bank and infighting within the Church. Last year, 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI resigned saying he was no longer suited to what was required of him at the Petrine ministry, becoming the first pontiff to stand down from the job in almost 600 years.