The clash between the religious rights and civil rights is nothing new
in the United States. We have come a long way in splitting hair and have
been successful in dissecting civil rights out of religious rights. We
are struggling with same sex marriage, gender equality, contraceptives,
abortion and other issues. The First Amendment may eventually be reduced
to just preventing establishment of, or hindrance in the free exercise
of religion, but may give room to wean civil and criminal issues into
the civil jurisdiction like the death penalty.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a stinging report Wednesday that
first and foremost called on the Roman Catholic Church to remove all
child abusers from its ranks and to open its archives to the committee
for independent review of crimes and concealment.
The report went beyond that though to criticize the Church for its
stance on abortion, homosexuality and contraception among other things.
The Vatican responded that certain elements of the report were “an
attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of
human person and in the exercise of religious freedom. ”
The Catholic Association issued a statement calling the report “a
stunning and misguided attackon the Vatican. The responsible committee
appears to have overlooked the last decade, in which the Church has
taken serious measures to protect children.”
In simple terms, should the committee have limited its comment to the
issue of child sexual abuse or was it right to raise broader questions
about the church’s teachings on social issues? In a broader sense, what
is illuminated by this conflict between a secular institution and a
religious one? How should a person of faith respond when someone or
something questions their sacred teachings?
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
The call from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Roman Catholic Church to remove all child abusers from its ranks and to open its archives to the committee for independent review of crimes and concealment is within its charter.
The United Nations’ declaration on religious intolerance in its Article 1 (3) states, “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
The United Nations or its committees do not have the authority to demand accountability or execute any of their decisions. However, most nations are signatories to its charter on religious freedom and human rights.
This particular issue has opened up a can of worms, and may lead us into redefining the boundaries between religion and civil society beyond a nation’s border.
The clash between the religious rights and civil rights is nothing new in the United States. We have come a long way in splitting hair and have been successful in dissecting civil rights out of religious rights. We are struggling with same sex marriage, gender equality, contraceptives, abortion and other issues. The First Amendment may eventually be reduced to just preventing establishment of, or hindrance in the free exercise of religion, but may give room to wean civil and criminal issues into the civil jurisdiction like the death penalty.
However, other nations like Saudi Arabia (beheading), Pakistan (blasphemy laws), Iran (stoning adulterer to death), India (anti-conversion laws), Israel (Orthodoxy-settlements), Uganda (death for homosexuality) may vigorously defend their right to keep it under a religious wrap. Of course we still have the death penalty in practice and needs to be done with.
Thanks to Pope Francis, in less than a year, he has been able to see all the infractions within the Catholic Church and taken the initiatives to fix them, and it will take a few more years or longer to stabilize. However, knowing the Pope for the last eleven months, I believe he is on the side of the victims, and indeed he is a mercy to mankind and will do the right thing.
Society at large has a responsibility to protect the unprotected and punish the abuser. Religions do not have a system to petition with religious authorities to redress fallacious laws. As a Muslim, I have seeded that change in Fixing Sharia.
A few decades from now, will most of the religious laws transition into civil laws as societies become increasingly diverse?
To read from other panelists, go to Dallas Morning News at – http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/02/texas-faith-did-united-nations-report-on-catholic-church-go-too-far.html/
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on
Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to
the Texas Faith Column at Dallas
Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work
through many links.