The United Nations issued a denunciatory statement against the Holy See this week, blasting the Vatican for its continued tolerance of abusive bishops and challenging the Pope to open the “files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.”
According to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the scathing and exceptionally blunt report, authored by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, came after Vatican officials were grilled last month over their continued lack of action on behalf of abuse 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 report said.
The U.N. urged the Vatican to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment and refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes.”
The report demanded that the Holy See turn over their “archive of evidence” surrounding the decades long abuse of young children, numbering into the tens of thousands.
The Vatican’s initial response was that the Roman Catholic Church is committed to “defending and protecting the rights of the child,” and that it would study the report. Shortly thereafter, Vatican diplomat Archbishop Silvano Tomasi condemned the report as vague and unmerited, saying the report does not acknowledge the proactive steps taken by the Vatican over the last decade or so.
“It seems as if the document was prepared before the committee meeting, where the Vatican gave detailed responses on various points that weren’t reported in this concluding document or seem to not have been taken into consideration,” Tomasi told Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis previously called the sexual abuse scandal “the shame of the Church,” and vowed to make the rooting out of predator priests and bishops a paramount concern that the Vatican would overcome.
“Due to a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication, cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where such crimes occurred,” the report went on to say.
According to the AP report, no Catholic bishop “has ever been sanctioned by the Vatican for sheltering an abusive priest, and only in 2010 did the Holy See direct bishops to report abusers to police where law enforcement requires it. Vatican officials have acknowledged that bishop accountability remains a major problem and have suggested that under Francis, things might begin to change.”