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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Mary McAleese says the Vatican is moving backwards on children's rights

The former president says the church is embroiled in a dispute with the governing body of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

FORMER PRESIDENT MARY McAleese has criticised the Vatican for its stance on children’s rights.

Speaking to the Royal Irish Academy yesterday evening, McAleese asked if an unresolved dispute between the Holy See and the governing body of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has caused the church to move backwards on children’s rights.

McAleese, who is completing a doctorate in Catholic church law, opened her speech by praising the church for its “prompt ratification” of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990.

“Unresolved dispute”

However, she then asked if the relationship between the Vatican and the Convention has deteriorated because of an unresolved dispute.

“The nub of the dispute is that the Convention on the Rights of the Child says the Holy See must implement the Convention within the internal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church,” McAleese explained.

That is to say within church teaching and canon law for the benefit of its three hundred million child members.

However, the church says it is only obliged to implement the Convention within the Vatican City State, which has “no more than a handful of children”, McAleese said.

She questioned why it is only willing to implement the convention for within the “tiny territory” of the city state.

The former president also highlighted contradictions in the church’s stance on corporal punishment and illegitimacy.

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Ceimin Burke

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