By Francis X. Rocca
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis called for the abolition of torture, which he condemned as a “very grave sin.”
The pope made his remarks June 22, after praying the Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.
“I repeat the firm condemnation of every form of torture and invite Christians to commit themselves to work together for its abolition and to support victims and their families,” he said. “To torture persons is a mortal sin. A very grave sin.”
Pope Francis related his statement to the observance June 26 of the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
The U.N. General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1997 to promote enforcement of the 1987 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the Vatican is a signatory.
In May, the U.N. Committee Against Torture questioned Vatican representatives about the Holy See’s adherence to the treaty. The committee later urged the Vatican to impose “meaningful sanctions” on any church authority who fails to follow church law in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and asked that church officials worldwide be required to report abuse allegations to local police.
In its response, the Vatican condemned sex abuse as a “serious crime and a grave violation of human dignity,” but argued that not all forms of sex abuse can be equated to state-sponsored torture under the terms of the treaty.
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