The United Nations agency for children’s rights issued a deeply critical report Wednesday slamming the Vatican for policies that it says enabled priests to rape children, and urging them to remove suspected child abusers from the clergy. The Vatican hit back at the U.N., calling parts of the report an attempt to “interfere” with Catholic Church teaching.
The Committee’s recommendations, which are non-binding, included opening up the Holy See’s internal investigations to the public and members of the civil society. It also asked the church to “immediately remove all known and suspected child abusers from assignment” and to empower children enrolled in Catholic schools to be aware of sexual abuse so they could protect themselves.
“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,” read the report.
The Holy See said in a statement it regretted some of the concluding observations made by the U.N. Committee and reiterated its commitment to children’s rights. It said some of the U.N.’s recommendations were “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person” and “ the exercise of religious freedom.”
The report is the follow-up from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s investigation into the Holy See’s record on children’s rights. Vatican officials faced an unprecedented public grilling by the U.N. last month for the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by members of the church, reports Reuters.
Though Pope Francis set up a commission last year into the sexual abuse of minors by priests, the U.N. has demanded that the Church take further steps by handing over its internal case files to authorities, something the Vatican has been reluctant to do.