U.N. Panel Assails Vatican Over Sex Abuse by Priests
In a series of hard-hitting observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child said 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 panel expressed particular concern that “in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests.”
The criticism came in the concluding observations of a U.N. panel that examined the Vatican’s compliance with the Convention of the Rights of the Child in a hearing last month attended by senior Vatican officials, including Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, who was the Vatican’s chief prosecutor of sexual abuse until 2012.
The panel noted the Holy See’s commitment to upholding the “inviolable” dignity of children but pointed out that it had moved priests well-known as child abusers to different parishes in an attempt to hide their crimes, allowing them and to remain in contact with children and to continue their abuse. In doing so, the Vatican “still places 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,” it said.
At last month’s hearing, the first time the Vatican had faced public examination by an international body, Monsignor Scicluna said “the Holy See gets it” that certain things “need to be done differently” but argued that legal action to prosecute and punish abusers was the responsibility of civil authorities.
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