The U.N. watchdog for children's rights said the Holy See should
also hand over its archives on sexual abuse of tens of thousands of
children so that culprits, as well as "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 Vatican was expected to issue a statement on the report later on
The U.N. committee on the Rights of the Child said the Catholic
Church had not yet taken measures to prevent a repeat of cases such
as Ireland's Magdalene laundries scandal, where girls were
arbitrarily placed in conditions of forced labor.
It called for an internal investigation of the laundries and similar
institutions so that those who were responsible could be prosecuted
and that "full compensation be paid to the victims and their
A commission created by Pope Francis in December should investigate
all cases of child sexual abuse "as well as the conduct of the
Catholic hierarchy in dealing with them," the report said.
Abusers had been moved from parish to parish or other countries "in
an attempt to cover-up such crimes," it added.
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"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
(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella
in Rome; editing by Andrew Heavens)
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