Catholic sex abuse: UN blasts Vatican for failing to protect children from paedophile priests

 

Rome

The United Nations today lambasted the Vatican for failing to protect children from paedophile priests as investigators in Geneva probe the global scandal that rocked the Catholic Church to its foundations.

While the damaging sex abuse headlines have died down as the Holy See basks in the favorable PR provided by its popular new leader Pope Francis I, today’s bruising inquisition reminded the world of the questions the Church has yet to answer.

The UN committee's main human rights investigator, Sara Oviedo, pressed the Vatican on the alarming frequency in which abusive priests have been moved to different areas rather than turned over to police. Given the church's "zero tolerance" policy, she asked, why were there "efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases?”

Another panel member, Hiranthi Wijemanne, asked Vatican representatives: "Why is there no mandatory reporting to a country's judicial authorities when crimes occur? Taking actions against perpetrators is part of justice.”

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former chief sex crimes prosecutor, denied that the Holy See encourage cover-ups.

"Our guideline has always been that domestic law of the countries where the churches operate needs to be followed," he said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative in Geneva, said that the Holy See welcomed any suggestions, which could help it in protecting children.

But critics of the Vatican were sceptical, given that as recently as last month the Holy See refused to provide the panel with key information, including the total number of abuse cases it was aware of -- a figure thought to be in excess of 4,000. The Church has also ducked other committee questions.

The Vatican, as member of the UN, is being held to account for apparent breaches of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to protect children.

The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990. It didn't provide progress reports for nearly a decade, however, and only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases around the world.

But today’s unprecedented inquiry has come largely as a result of intense pressure from victims’ groups. Their evidence of case studies in Mexico and the UK, plus grand jury investigations in the US, and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada, Ireland and Australia suggest the Vatican's culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed the suffering of thousands of children.

Campaigners are demanding to know why the most senior figures in the church failed to act for decades against notorious paedophiles such as Mexico’s Marcial Maciel, a friend of John Paul II, the Pope currently being fast-tracked for sainthood.

Other evidence of complicity includes correspondence from a Vatican cardinal praising a French bishop's decision to protect his abusive priest, and another Vatican directive to Irish bishops to refrain from mandatory reporting of abusers to police.

"When abusers are in jail, they don't harm kids," said Miguel Hurtado, a member of the main US-based victims' advocacy group SNAP, who said he was abused by a priest in the Catholic youth group he attended as a youngster in Catalonia, Spain. "And they failed to do that."

Pope Francis announced last month the a new Vatican committee to tackle clerical abuse but so far the Pontiff ha said little on the scandal. In a homily in Rome today, he said, however: "Do we feel shame? There are so many scandals that I do not want to name them individually but everyone knows about them.”

But Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP, told AP, that the Vatican's responses seem like "more of the same".

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments