Thursday, July 28th 2016

Child Sex Allegations, Vatican’s Legal Woes – Part 3: International Criminal Law

Courtesy of Reuters

In this third entry about the Vatican’s legal woes and child sex allegations, we’ll examine whether or not an international criminal law case against the Pope and the Vatican could hold up in a court of law.

The Pope and the Vatican claim that they cannot be held criminally liable for what Murphy did because the Pope is the head of the Vatican as a sovereign state. If we as a global community accept that title, then we would also grant him immunity from prosecution. Although the status of the Vatican’s nation-statehood has been contested and disputed, for the sake of this piece, let’s concede to their assertion and authority.

The Vatican was recognized as a sovereign state with the ratification of the Lateran Treaty between itself and Italy in 1929. According to a Vatican-supported website, the State’s mission is as follows:

In the Vatican City State, the Catholic Church, through its central government, constituted by the Pope and the Apostolic See, carries out its mission of truth, justice and peace. This confers on the State the singular characteristic of a sign of the independence and supernatural character of the Church, and of its mission of salvation for mankind.

If you read closely, you would have noticed that the aforementioned paragraph mentions truth and justice, and that the church seeks to save mankind. Therefore, one could infer that because they are self-described as an inherently virtuous body, a safe-haven for the weak and weary, then they should be held to high expectations and prosecuted accordingly. Also, if they have adopted and embraced the title of “State”, then they must also accept the consequences of such a determination.

As I’m sure we can all agree, each nation-state has certain responsibilities. What kind of responsibilities you may ask? Well, let’s take a look at a few possibilities: one of which is etched inside the United Nation’s Human Rights Treaties, specifically, the Convention on the Rights of a Child:

Article 3

1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.

3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform to the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

Article 4

States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.

If the Vatican proclaims itself to be a sovereign state with the Pope as its head, then do you think that they can and should be held to the same standards as any other sovereign state that can be tried and held accountable for the wrong-doings of those aligned with the state?

Posted by Melissa on April 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm.

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