Vatican Responds to UN Questions on Sexual Violence Against Children

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.  
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents SNAP in their effort to hold high-level Vatican officials accountable for enabling and covering up widespread and systematic sexual violence against children in the Catholic Church.
SNAP and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed an alternate report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child documenting the ongoing worldwide sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The UN committee has summoned the Vatican to report on its record of ensuring children are protected from sexual violence and safeguarding children’s well-being and dignity, the first time the Holy See will have been called to account for its actions on these issues before an international body with authority. The Vatican’s response to the committee’s questions was due on Nov 1, and they are due to appear before the committee in January to answer questions in person.
The SNAP-CCR report to the Committee lays out the depth and breadth of the problem, the policies and practices within the church that have both enabled and perpetuated the sexual violence, and the principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and one of its Optional Protocols which the Vatican has violated.
Read the list of questions from UN Committee on the Rights of the Child here.
Read the Vatican’s response here.
Read the SNAP-CCR report here.
For more information, visit CCR’s case page here.

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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December 3, 2013