UN report demands Vatican act against child sex abuse
A United Nations human rights committee has made an unprecedented demand that the Vatican "immediately remove" all clergy accused of child abuse and turn them over to civil authorities.
In its response to the report, the Vatican accused the U.N. of interfering with church teachings. The Holy See said it intends to submit the report to “thorough study and examination”, adding that it is committed to protecting children from abuse.
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child on Wednesday called on the Holy See to acknowledge sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children and hand over its archives on the subject, adding that “those who concealed their crimes”, could be held accountable.
The watchdog\’s exceptionally blunt paper – the most far-reaching critique of the Church hierarchy by the world body – followed its public grilling of Vatican officials last month.
“The Committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” the report said.
The committee said it is "gravely concerned" that the church has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken necessary measures to address such cases, and has adopted policies that permit the continuation of such practices with no consequence.
Pope Francis in December created a commission to investigate all reported cases of such abuse.
Abusers had been moved from parish to parish or other countries “in an attempt to cover-up such crimes,” it added.
“Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where such crimes occurred,” the U.N. body said.
At a public session last month, the committee pushed Vatican delegates to reveal the scope of the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests that Pope Francis called “the shame of the Church”.
The Holy See\’s delegation, answering questions from an international rights panel for the first time since the scandals broke more than two decades ago, denied allegations of a Vatican cover-up and said it had set clear guidelines to protect children from predator priests.
UN investigators subjected the Holy See to a daylong interrogation last month on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by the Vatican in 1990, the main international treaty ensuring children\’s rights.
It is one of 193 countries that have signed the UN convention, giving the international body the jurisdiction to investigate the Holy See\’s standards of child protection.
The Vatican submitted a report in 1994 outlining how it intended to implement the convention, but a progress report was not seen until 2012 after a series of sexual abuse cases within the church and allegations of a cover-up.
The UN ended by saying all the recommendations should be completed by September, 2017.
Source: VOA and agencies