Report to UN Committee Slams Vatican’s Continued Failure to Protect Children from Sexual Violence

Vatican fails to submit its report; survivors and human rights group apprise committee of its lack of progress


September 5, 2017, New York – Today, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child detailing how, after three years, the Holy See has not implemented any of the committee’s recommendations aimed at ensuring the protection of children from sexual violence.

The Holy See was summoned to the committee in 2014 where the Vatican was implored to take concrete steps to remedy decades of institutional complicity and cover-up of widespread sexual violence. While last Friday marked the Vatican’s deadline to submit a comprehensive report on their progress, the committee reports they have not received anything thus far.

“The fact that the Vatican did not submit a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is one more indication that Church officials have not taken this process seriously,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP managing director. “In the three years since they had to answer questions about the widespread sexual violence for the first time in history, they have not implemented any of the committee’s recommendations. And children remain at risk while Vatican officials engage in power struggles, finger-pointing, and deflection.”

In their report, SNAP and CCR detail the Holy See’s failure to implement any of the committee’s recommendations, including increasing child protection from sexual violence and accountability for perpetrators and those who cover-up and conceal the offenses. The groups underscored the continued urgency to remedy this crisis, as revelations continue to unfold across the world of the widespread and pervasive nature of sexual violence in the Church; as one example, they point to Guam, where, since 2014, more than 100 survivors of sexual abuse have come forward to sue perpetrators at the top tiers of the island’s Archdiocese of Agaña.

“This latest report details the Church’s continued failure to take serious steps to end sexual violence within the Church,” said CCR staff attorney Pam Spees. “Church officials are quick to decry efforts to hold them accountable as scapegoating or anti-Catholic sentiment and deflect by pointing to instances of sexual violence in other religious contexts – a clear false equivalence. No other entity on earth has the Church’s global presence and power to conceal the offenses and insulate its perpetrators through the religious, political, and financial influence it wields.”

In concluding the report, the advocates argue that the Holy See has not made substantial progress in genuinely acknowledging, internalizing, and implementing the full range of policies and practices that would center children’s best interests and protect them against sexual violence. 

Read the full report submitted by SNAP and CCR to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child here. For more information on SNAP’s accountability efforts, see CCR’s case page here.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has existed for 28 years and has more than 25,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in its title, it has members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


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September 5, 2017