Poland’s agreement with Vatican helps protect abusers, NSS tells UN

Vatican helps protect abusers

Title: Poland’s agreement with Vatican helps protect abusers, NSS tells UN
Publisher: National Secular Society
Date: 04SEP2020

The National Secular Society has urged a UN committee to push Poland to renegotiate a treaty with the Vatican, in order to better protect child abuse survivors in the Catholic Church.

In a submission to the UN committee on the rights of the child, the NSS said the concordat between Poland and the Holy See appeared to “compromise the effective administration of justice”.

The NSS added that the concordat impeded Poland’s freedom and ability to conform to the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The NSS’s submission highlighted evidence that the scale of clerical child sexual abuse in Poland is substantial and prosecutors are expected to treat the church with deference.

The submission also said the country should take steps to tackle the discrimination and persecution faced by LGBT+ children, including by introducing inclusive relationships and sex education and reforming religious education.

The committee is taking evidence on Poland’s compliance with the CRC ahead of an examination of Poland’s five-yearly report on the subject.

Concordat undermines secular justice

The concordat, which Poland and the Vatican signed in 1993, requires conformity with the Catholic Church’s canon ‘law’ in some instances and remains valid today.

The NSS’s submission said the concordat sought to give ecclesiastical ‘law’ precedence over secular law. It said the ‘justice’ delivered as a result would not be “an adequate or just substitute for even-handed secular justice” for perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

The maximum sanction under canon law for abuse of minors, including rape, is defrocking.

The NSS also referred to a 2019 letter from the national prosecutor which suggested local prosecutors seeking documentary evidence from the Catholic Church were required to treat it with deference.

The letter suggested in some cases this should include allowing the church to withhold documents.

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