Pope Benedict’s 2008 visit to the United States was an important moment in the Church’s confronting the sexual abuse of children. Who can forget his moving meeting with victims of abuse? On that trip the Pope explained, “I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe the pain inflicted by such abuse.”
The Catholic bishops have repeatedly apologized for failures in the past to understand the scope of the problem. From John Paul II’s summoning the American cardinals to Rome in 2002, popes have led the way in confronting this challenge. The Church has adopted policies to make church environments the safest place possible for any child.
All this is what makes recent criticism of the Church by the United Nations so unreasonable. This week a UN committee overseeing the rights of children claimed the Holy See “has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of abuse.” The report further asserted that the Church’s opposition to contraception, abortion and homosexuality put children at risk. A Vatican statement argued that the UN was “attempting to interfere” with Catholic doctrine and her “exercise of religious freedom.”
The current United Nations attack is simply unreasonable. With over a billion Catholics in the world, the Holy Father cannot be held responsible for the failings of every priest and bishop. Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life—and respect for marriage from which human life springs—is the foundation for a healthy society. It is time to call the UN attack what is it: ideologically-based and simply unreasonable.