Geneva (AFP) – The Vatican was denounced in a devastating U.N. report Wednesday for failing to stamp out child abuse and the church was urged to remove all clergy suspected of raping or molesting children.
The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said “tens of thousands of children worldwide” had been abused systemically for years within the Catholic church.
It urged the Holy See 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”.
In a hard-hitting report, the committee said the Roman Catholic Church was falling far short of its stated committment to stem abuse by priests and lay employees, including in schools.
“The 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,” it added.
It blasted the practice of transferring abusers to different parishes within countries, and even across borders, in an attempt to cover up their crimes and remove them from the clutches of justice.
The report followed a landmark hearing last month during which members of the committee — made up of 18 independent human rights experts from around the globe — grilled senior Churchmen and repeatedly questioned the Vatican’s resolve.
Like other signatories of the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican agrees to be scrutinised by the panel.