It’s not just Bob Beckel on The Five demanding more attention from Barack Obama and the White House on the acute issue of the global persecution of Christians, either. Members of Congress wondered aloud yesterday why the Obama administration has not leveraged its diplomacy or considerable American economic might to force players in the Middle East and Africa to stop the persecution. A rare appearance by a Vatican official in Congress attracted long-overdue attention in Washington to the issue:
In a rare appearance on Capitol Hill by a Vatican representative, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt testified Tuesday before a House subcommittee on the “flagrant and widespread persecution” of Christians in the Middle East.
“No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab,” Chullikatt said.
Chullikatt was among seven speakers discussing the escalation of threats to Christians. Specifically, testimony focused on underreported assaults, the plight of impacted Christian communities and the need to protect religious freedoms and civil rights.
“Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith,” Chullikatt said.
This also led to the exchange on The Five, in which Beckel slams the White House for being “silent.” When one panelist notes that not many people know about the issue, Beckel says, “That includes the White House,” and follows up with this shot: “Why the White House and State Department stay silent on this, I do not know.”
Another panelist suggests that Christians have to speak out more about persecution of gays before people will speak out on persecution of Christians:
That’s an absurd formulation. First, the targeting of Christians worldwide is on a much larger scale thanks to the size of the Christian population. Second, Christians do speak out against persecutions of other minorities, including gays and lesbians. Fr. James Martin pointed out yesterday how the Catholic Church speaks out against such persecution, to use one small example among many.
Another suggestion from The Five was to pressure the UN into addressing it, but the UN is more interested in pursuing Christians than protecting them and covering up their own crimes, as Claudia Rosett wrote this weekend:
That’s rich coming from the U.N., which has still not solved its own festering problems of peacekeeper sex abuse, including the rape of minors. Exposing abusers and holding them to account is a great idea. The Vatican has spent years addressing the scandal of its own past handling of such cases. But the U.N. hardly engages in the transparency it is now promoting.
The U.N. releases only generic statistics on violations committed by personnel working under its flag. The U.N. doesn’t share with the public such basic information as the names of the accused or the details of what they did to people the U.N. dispatched them to protect. Blue berets accused of sex crimes are simply sent back to their home countries, where in the majority of cases they drop off the radar.
Though the U.N. has been recording a drop in sex-abuse cases since it began releasing numbers in 2007, the number of alleged instances of rape and exploitation each year still runs into the dozens. (This may understate the realities, given the hurdles to victims coming forward, often in societies in tumult or at war.) From 2007-13, the U.N. reported more than 600 allegations of rape or sexual exploitation, with 354 substantiated—many of them involving minors. The numbers do not convey how ugly some of these cases get. Details can occasionally be gleaned when an incident seeps past the U.N. wall of omerta and makes it into the news, as with the peacekeeper gang rape in 2011 of a Haitian teenager, whose agony was caught on video.
In such matters as sex abuse, it is reasonable to hold the Vatican, or any other organization, to standards higher than the low bar the U.N. sets for itself. But hypocrisy is just one of the problems with this 16-page report on the Holy See, which further assails the Vatican for not subordinating itself wholesale to a much broader U.N. agenda. For example, the report calls for the Vatican to drop its opposition to adolescent abortion and contraception, condone underage homosexuality, and use its “authority” and “influence” to disseminate world-wide a roster of U.N. views and policies that run counter to those of the Catholic Church.
The real issue here is that whatever changes the Vatican and the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics might consider, the U.N. is supremely ill-qualified to serve as a guide.
Indeed. And we’re apparently not interested in using our leverage to adjust that perspective, either. I wonder why.