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UK: Amnesty raises concerns ahead of Pope's visit

Child abuse and Gay rights head list of concerns

The Pope should take the opportunity of his first State visit to the United Kingdom to address growing public concern over sexual abuse of Children's rights by priests in the Catholic Church, Amnesty International said today.

Victims of the abuses in the UK have called for a meeting with the Pope, which he has yet to agree to. The Holy See is obligated under international law to protect Children's rights’s human rights, ensure that perpetrators of child abuse are brought to justice and provide reparations to victims.  

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“The Roman Catholic Church has failed to protect Children's rights from abuse. Worse, Church leaders have systematically shielded abusive clergy. While the Pope has acknowledged the gravity of the abuse, more needs to be done to offer redress to the victims and prevent these abuses from reoccurring.   

“The Church must make up for this appalling record in concrete ways – by cooperating with criminal investigations, opening up records of its internal inquiries to public scrutiny, and by offering an apology and reparations to all survivors of abuse, including those whose legal claims are now barred by statutes of limitations.”

Amnesty International also called on The Holy See to stop opposing the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights and to do more to support Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and men to exercise these rights free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

Kate Allen said:

“Just as the Holy See has been a welcome voice against the death penalty, so it can be against the disempowerment and discrimination faced by Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, men, boys and girls in countries all over the world. A good start would be to ensure that Catholic church leaders around the world speak out against discrimination and violence against gay men and lesbians.

“The Pope’s itinerary includes addressing a gathering of civil society in Westminster Hall on Friday 17 September. He should use this occasion to champion universal human rights, and express his support for measures such as equalities legislation as a way to tackle discrimination and deep-seated inequalities both in the UK and abroad.

“The Holy See, as a state, has a voice at the United Nations and has clear international responsibilities to uphold human rights.”
The Holy See made a positive statement at the UN General Assembly in December 2008 advocating that discrimination toward LGBTI persons should be avoided and criminal penalties against them abolished.

Amnesty International has called on the Pope to ensure that representatives of the Roman Catholic Church all over the world honour these commitments.

Church leaders elsewhere in the world continue to support restrictions on abortion even when abortions are necessary to save Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's lives or protect their health.

Last year Amnesty highlighted how Nicaragua’s total ban on abortions – imposed after calls from the Roman Catholic Church – was endangering the lives of girls and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, denying them life-saving treatment, preventing health professionals from practising effective medicine and contributing to an increase in maternal deaths across the country.

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