On Monday in Geneva, the United Nations Committee Against Torture will consider the Holy See’s initial report relating to its compliance with the Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Though focusing significantly on the tragic and, in the words of Pope Francis, “evil,” sexual abuse of children by a relatively small number of Catholic priests, the committee’s review of the Holy See’s initial report under the Convention Against Torture is part of a much larger debate over whether the U.N. should be actively promoting social and cultural rights that conflict with the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and other religions.

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the U.N. and its various agencies have identified a variety of social and cultural rights. In many cases, these human rights were inspired by Christian teachings and the writings of great Catholic scholars. More recently, U.N. staff, nongovernmental organizations, academics and transnational courts have re-interpreted these rights or invented new rights in a manner that conflicts with Christian teachings and practices.

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