A United Nations committee has accused the Vatican of knowingly covering up priest sex abuse in an attempt protect the reputation of the Catholic Church.
In a report released this week that news agencies are calling “devastating” and “a scathing rebuke,” the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child excoriates church leaders for what the report calls a “code of silence” used to cover the complaints of child victims and their families as well as to protect abusers from prosecution. The panel’s report is the result of a daylong interrogation of Vatican representatives and concludes that that church leaders “systematically placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims.”
“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,” the panel wrote.
The committee urges church leadership to conduct investigations of all allegations of abuse as well as any efforts to conceal abuse and protect abusers and to do so by setting up an expert commission as well as a system of rules and procedures for reporting all suspected cases of abuse.
It was not until 2010 that the church directed bishops to report abusers when required by law.