The UN and Catholic Moral Teaching

Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

To the world’s eyes, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a singular condemnation of the sexual abuse of children carried out and covered up by clergy of the Catholic Church. How confusing then that the response of the Church should focus on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. Is the Church being evasive? trying to change the subject? clamoring for moral high ground? Going merely by the reports of our vigilant friends in the media, the answer would be yes to all three.

Yet, the Church was actually on point with their response. Before me is the “Advance Unedited Version” of the Committee’s concluding observations on the Holy See, dated January 31, 2014. In a spirit of defiance against the journalistic practice of shorten and summarize, I here offer full experts, with some added commentary, from this 16 page mess to demonstrate that the core substance of the document is in fact an attack on the Church’s moral teachings.

Tomorrow, we will look at those sections highlighted by the press concerning the sexual abuse of children and then on Wednesday I will offer some concluding thoughts, as a lay Catholic, on this document. Sure this approach is clunky, unorganized and inefficient, but so is the UN and I can’t claim to be superior to my subject. Let us begin with:


The Committee urges the Holy See to review its position on abortion which places risks on the life and health of pregnant girls and to amend Canon 1398 relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted. ( 55)

The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of anonymous abandonment of babies organized by Catholic organizations in several countries through the use of the so-called “baby boxes”. (¶ 35)

The Committee strongly urges the Holy See to… determine the roots causes of the practice… taking into account the right of children to know their biological parents and siblings. ( 36)

Alasdair MacIntyre once pointed out that the UN had long abandoned any attempt to provide philosophical backing for their pronouncements, or to even retain a veneer of coherency. The “right of children to know their biological parents,” implies a biological process by which the child comes about. To affirm this “right,” while also affirming the “right” to abortion leads to the peculiar conclusion that the baby in the womb has absolutely no common identity with the baby out of it. As if each child pulled off a move worthy of Sherlock Holmes, where whatever it was that was occupying the womb disappears miraculously right at the moment of birth and is replaced with an actual child, who has a “right to know” its biological parents. This is the kooky world of UN rationality, which makes Ken Ham look scientifically rigorous.

More disturbing, is the feigned ignorance of the UN concerning the “root causes” of the practice of “abandonment.” The baby placed in the “baby box” has not been carelessly abandoned; she has been salvaged from the trash heap or the sewer. Baby boxes exist as alternatives to abortion. Better that the child should discover the world without her biological parents, than never discover the world at all. That the UN has here characterized the practice as child abandonment, which is in violation of the “right of children to know their biological parents,” raises in my mind the hitherto unconsidered possibility that baby boxes may soon be destroyed in the name of those persons they contain. What a warm world for children that would be.

Read here

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