UN criticises Vatican for shielding child abuse suspects
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has criticised the Vatican, saying its polices have allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children without reprimand.
The report produced by the CRC also criticised the Holy See’s attitudes towards abortion and contraception.
The Vatican has said it will examine the report, but accused the authors of interference.
In the report, the authors said they were deeply concerned “about child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic churches who operate under the authority of the Holy See, with clerics having been involved in the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide”.
The CRC goes on to request the Vatican reveal the clergy who “concealed their crimes” so they can be held accountable.
The report criticised the “practice of offenders’ mobility,” namely the transfer of clergy guilty of child abuse between parishes and sometimes abroad.
The report said such transfer placed “children in many countries at high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children”.
The committee implored the Vatican Commission, created by Pope Francis in December, to investigate all incidences of reported child sexual abuse “as well as the conduct of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them”.
Last month, officials of the Holy See were questioned in Geneva about their refusal to release data and asked about what they plan to do to prevent abuse in the future.
The Vatican denied a request by the UN in December for data on abuse. The Holy See said it would only release such information if requested by another country as part of legal proceedings.
In a statement following the report’s publication the Vatican said: “The Holy See takes note of the concluding observations…which will be submitted to a thorough study and examination…according to international law and practice.”
The statement continued, saying the Holy See “regrets to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom”.
Nevertheless, the Vatican reiterated its “commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child…according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine”.
The recommendations the CRC have made are not binding on the Vatican and the committee has no mechanism to enforce them.