UPDATE: Vatican statement says
February 5, 2014, New York – "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," wrote a United Nations Committee today. The Vatican must undertake a series of reforms to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and disclose records on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy around the world, according to concluding observations released today by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. Committee questioned Vatican representatives in a public hearing last month regarding the Vatican’s handling of the global crisis of sexual violence committed by Catholic clergy, including allegations that it enabled sexual violence against children by transferring pedophile priests to different parishes or destroying evidence in order to cover up their crimes. This was the first time Vatican officials have been directly questioned by an international body on this topic.
The U.N 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 Committee lamented the “code of silence” that has allowed both abusers and those who have covered it up to “escape judicial proceedings.” Among its many recommendations, the U.N. Committee called on the Vatican to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes.”
“This day has been a long time coming, but the international community is finally holding the Vatican accountable for its role in enabling and perpetuating sexual violence in the Church,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The whole world will be watching to ensure that the Vatican takes the concrete steps required by the U.N. to protect children and end these crimes. Impunity and cover-up, including at the highest levels of the Church, will not be tolerated.”
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