The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [official website] released a report [text, PDF] Wednesday condemning the Holy See [official website] for its handling of allegations regarding sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests. The report calls on the Vatican to remove all priests who have, or are suspected of committed acts of child abuse, and for the Vatican to turn over all such individuals to relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution. In addition, the Committee denounced the "code of silence" imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, crediting the policy for fact cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to law enforcement authorities in the nations where the crimes occurred. In response [press release] the Vatican pledged to submit the report to "thorough study and investigation, saying they:
regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom. The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine.The Committee also voiced concern over the Vatican's failure to take action to provide justice for girls forced to work in slavery like conditions in the Magdalene laundries [60 Minutes report] of Ireland run by congregations of Catholic Sisters until 1996.
The CRC has heavily criticized the Vatican on the its handling of child sex abuse. During questioning in Geneva in January, committee member Sara Oviedo forced Vatican officials to acknowledge [JURIST report] that the Holy See had been slow to react to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members. Former Vatican sex crimes prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna, while admitting some Vatican fault, assured the committee it was committed to to take action against anyone who obstructs justice. The Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] filed [JURIST report] an International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] complaint [complaint, PDF] in 2011 against Vatican officials for systematic sexual abuse and the concealment of such incidents. The complaint was filed on behalf of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) [advocacy website] and included more than 20,000 pages of materials relating to the crimes.