By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A controversy has erupted over the use of Catholic school students as props during a hearing conducted by state legislators in Providence, Rhode Island on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that is not backed by the Vatican.
The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) reports that a group of students from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island participated in the hearing which was meant to urge President Obama to “adopt in its entirety” the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The controversial treaty, which preempts parents’ fundamental rights to direct the upbringing and education of their children and invites foreign interference in the private affairs of American families, has been signed by every nation except the United States and Somalia.
“If enacted, the [convention] would become superior to the laws of the states and their judicial systems, and would be subordinate only to the text of the Constitution,” the proposed resolution stated.
The Rhode Island hearing was intended to be a mere formality but it quickly went awry when pro-life and pro-family advocates began airing a host of reasons why U.S. ratification would pose a threat to religious freedom, parental rights, and the right to life.
According to C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., tensions mounted even higher when the lay chaplain at St. Raphael’s testified that the resolution was launched at a joint event at the United Nations last year hosted by the Holy See and the religious order that runs St. Raphael’s.
However, C-FAM’s sources at the Vatican set the record straight by saying the Holy See does not back the resolution, but only acceded to it with several reservations.
The director of Rhode Island Right to Life told C-FAM he was shocked and saddened to see students promoting the treaty while completely unaware of its ramifications. “Just like Gaddafi, it seems some activists are willing to use our children as human shields to promote an anti-life agenda.”
Neither the House nor Senate resolution to sign the treaty passed in the state legislature.
Rhode Island is not the only state considering ratification of the treaty. A similar resolution is being taken up in the state of Illinois which, if enacted, will make all state child welfare programs comply with the treaty regardless of U.S. ratification. A vote is scheduled for the end of this week.
Meanwhile, 36 Republican Senators have sponsored a resolution opposing the treaty. Known as SR 99, it states that the convention “undermines traditional principles” of U.S. law and calls efforts to sign on to the treaty “contrary to principles of self-government and federalism.” It says the convention should not be put before the Senate for a vote. Because two-thirds of the Senate would have to ratify the treaty, the number of those opposing is now high enough to prevent ratification at the current time.
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