Vatican urges the United Nations to protect Christian women in conflict zones

The Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations has warned that Christians face “extinction” in some regions of armed conflict, with Christian women and girls particularly vulnerable.

Msgr Janusz Urbanczyk, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, voiced concern about the “continued lack of attention” given to protecting women and girls who are “targeted and attacked purely because of the faith they profess”.

He called upon the UN Security Council to identify programmes “to eradicate this scourge”, as the council discussed challenges to the protection of women and girls in armed conflict and post-conflict settings.

Citing Catholic social teaching on human dignity, Msgr Urbanczyk said all violence is an affront to that dignity, but that women and girls are particularly vulnerable when violence arises.

He said sexual violence against women “tears at the very fabric of society”.

The Vatican official recalled the words of Pope Francis, who told members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in an address on January 12 that humanity must not overlook the fact that wars involve the crime of rape, which the Pope described as “a most grave offense against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit”.

Msgr Urbanczy also stressed the help that the Catholic Church is providing to women and girls victimised by war and conflict.

“The Catholic Church through her institutions and agencies around the world is providing assistance, care and support  to  thousands  of  survivors  of  sexual  violence  in  situations  of armed  conflict,” he said.

“These institutions and their courageous individuals sacrifice themselves on a daily basis and many of these have paid dearly for their endeavours.”