Vatican faces UN grilling over child sex abuse

Holy See will be questioned on Thursday over its implementation of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Vatican will be grilled by a UN panel over cases of child sex abuse, and will be forced to defend itself over allegations it failed to prevent the rape of thousands of children by protecting paedophile priests at the expense of victims.

The Holy See will be questioned on Thursday by a UN committee in Geneva on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that calls for signatories to undertake all appropriate measures to protect children from harm and to put the interests of children above all else.

The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. However, it did not provide progress reports for almost ten years, and only submitted one in 2012 after receiving a storm of criticism following the revelations in 2010 of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond, the Associated Press has reported.

Victims groups and human rights organisations have since rallied together to call for the UN committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse failures, providing written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem.

A cardinal makes his way to Vatican City A cardinal makes his way to Vatican City Their reports reference case studies from Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the US, and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal may have contributed to the problem. 

In the reports they also include correspondence from a Vatican cardinal allegedly praising a French bishop's decision to protect his abusive priest, and another Vatican command to Irish bishops to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their policies.

"For too many years, survivors were the only ones speaking out about this and bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism," said Pam Spees, a human rights lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which provided a key report to the committee.

March: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City March: Newly elected Pope Francis I appears on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. "And so this is a very important moment for many, many people who are here in Geneva and around the world who will be watching as the Holy See is called for the first time ever to actually answer questions." 

The committee had also asked the Holy See to provide detailed information on all cases of abuse they are aware of, a number the Vatican has acknowledged is over 4,000. 
 

But according to AP, in its written response to the committee submitted last month, the Vatican declined to provide such information and did not answer many of the committee's questions, arguing that it was not responsible for the actions of every Catholic, much less every priest or parish in the world.

Instead, it said it is really only responsible for implementing the UN treaty where it exercises territorial control: the 44 hectares (110 acres) of the Vatican City State in downtown Rome, where 31 children currently live. 

"This representation by the Holy See is particularly disingenuous in light of the all-too-numerous accounts of efforts by bishops, archbishops, cardinals and other church officials around the world to cover up these crimes and subvert the course of justice in other states, further compounding the harm to victims," the Centre for Constitutional Rights and SNAP said in response.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue