December 3, 2013, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), released the following statement on the Vatican’s response to a set of questions posed to it officially by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child with regards to the handling of the widespread sexual violence against children in the church.
In its vague and delayed response to the committee, the Vatican has once again refused to accept responsibility for the policies and practices that allow, even facilitate and encourage, the proliferation of rape and sexual violence against children in the Catholic Church. In claiming it only bears responsibility for what happens inside Vatican City and blaming the lack of prevention and redress for these crimes by priests and others associated with the church around the world on local governments, the Holy See has taken one of its most explicitly disingenuous and misleading positions on the issue to date.The Vatican conveniently ignores its strict policies regarding internal reporting and oversight and the ways in which it has blocked efforts at civil remedies, blocked efforts to ensure access to justice for victims by fighting reforms or the abolition of statutes of limitations, and rewarded bishops who have subverted and often thwarted criminal and civil investigations in many countries.The response is vague and general, where the committee sought concrete data and facts. If the Vatican does not have this information, then it has wholly failed in its obligation to investigate allegations of sexual violence by its clergy against children; more likely, it has failed to disclose information about the tens of thousands of cases brought to its attention. As demonstrated in our initial filing to the committee and as we will highlight in our forthcoming submission, the Vatican has certainly been able to track these cases when it comes to aggressively fighting or blocking victims' efforts for compensation in civil actions.