It’s been slightly more than two weeks since the Holy See stood in the dock before the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva and was told the Church may be in violation of international laws against torture.
On Friday, the committee report is expected to be issued, and it likely won’t be happy news for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.
New York Times reporters were calling legal sources Thursday night asking about what happens to sex abuse victims’ cases if the committee says the Church is guilty of torture for not doing enough to stop child sex abuse. Specifically the Times wanted to know if such a ruling would bolster court cases against the Church.
Based on the line of questioning Church officials received earlier this month, it is expected the Church will be accused of torture for the abuse of minors by priests even though the Church maintains the Vatican City State can hardly be held accountable for everything that priests may do everywhere in the world.
It is also expected the committee will say that Church teaching on abortion violates the treaty. Committee members grilled the Vatican representatives aggressively on the teaching of the Church, one going so far as to suggest the Church is guilty of psychological torture.
Under such strenuous questioning on May 5th, the Apostolic Nuncio to the UN in Geneva pushed back hard, telling committee members that abortion itself was torture, not the teaching against abortion.
It may be that this UN committee, like the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child earlier this year, will tell the Church that Church teaching falls outside the bounds of the treaty. At the time, Church leaders calls such suggestions a violation of religious freedom.
Questions will no doubt be raised about the rapidity with which the report is being issued. If the committee took the report of the Holy See seriously, some will think the final report would have taken longer than 17 days to produce.
After the Children’s committee report came out so fast, papal spokesman Federico Lombardi suggested the report may have been written in advance and by ideologically driven advocacy groups.