Humanists rebuke Holy See for violating its international duties

  • post Type / Members and partners
  • Date / 6 October 2010

Speaking at the current OSCE Review Conference in Warsaw, David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation (EHF), delivered a strong rebuke to the Holy See (an OSCE member state) for its interference with the rule of law in other states, contrary to diplomatic protocols and its own specific undertakings.

Having quoted from several international conventions on the behaviour of states and their diplomats, Pollock delivered the following assessment:

Sadly one of the members of the OSCE  — one that constantly adopts the moral high ground, claiming that its role in the community of nations is “to be the voice that the human conscience is waiting for”  — is in constant breach of all these principles. 

  • It actively frustrates the application of the law in other states.
  • It deliberately and as a matter of policy ensures that serious criminal offences alleged against its employees are not reported to the police.
  • It shelters criminals from prosecution, sometimes helping remove them from the jurisdiction of the states where they offended.
  • It fails to take any effective action to protect the human rights of those abused by these criminals.

That OSCE member state is the Holy See, and its failures relate principally to the problem of persistent sexual violence by priests against children but also to threats to politicians aimed at influencing decision-making by governments.

Pollock referred to evidence detailed in his full paper, lodged on the OSCE conference website, and concluded: 

A state that interferes so consistently in the internal affairs of other states — in their politics and in the rule of law — is in breach of the most basic standards of diplomatic behaviour. Now that this has been so fully documented, we must hope that the Holy See’s membership of international organisations such as this will make it vulnerable to pressure rather than offering it a platform to parade its self-proclaimed moral superiority in preaching to others.

Offending priests found guilty under Canon Law are often sentenced to a period of retreat and contemplation on their sins. It would befit the Holy See to enter a period of silence and withdrawal from the world stage while it contemplates its moral defects, manifest to all but itself – and that includes very many Roman Catholics – and while it rethinks the position it occupies in the comity of nations under which it is subject to the commitments set out in the international instruments that I have quoted.

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