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Vatican failed to protect children from sexual abuse, says the UN

The Vatican has come under fierce criticism from the United Nations for failing to protect children from sexual abuse.

A committee for children's rights has accused the Catholic Church of widespread cover ups and adopting policies which allow clergymen to get away with their crimes.

The UN committee said its investigation had shown the Holy See had adopted policies which had led to the continuation of abuse. The watchdog's exceptionally blunt paper, the most far-reaching critique of the Church hierarchy by the world body, followed its public grilling of Vatican officials in Geneva last month. It demands the Vatican "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers.

The report said:

"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 Vatican has said the UN is interfering with church teachings after the report criticised its stance on homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

"However, it also said the church was committed to protecting children from abuse and will submit the UN report to "thorough study and examination."

But advocacy group Catholic Voices is accusing the UN court of 'terrible errors' in the report and is calling on the Vatican to leave as a signatory of the UN convention on the rights of the child in the wake of the committee's findings

Jack Valero from Catholic Voices told Premier's Des Busteed the report has failed to acknowledge the progress the Holy See had made on the issue in recent years:

The UN committee for children's rights is also demanding all archives be handed over so any culprits can be held to account. It has also recommended the Holy See establish a framework for reporting and ensuring all members of the Catholic Church are educated on the issue. Victims of the abuse have expressed hope that this process could end the secrecy still surrounding cases. Child abuse victim Sue Cox from Survivors Voice told Premier's News Hour it's now time the Catholic Church took action:

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, reacted to the criticisms in the report.

He said:

"The report in the concluding recommendations that the committee of the Convention on the Right of the Child that were released today point out a rather negative approach to what the Holy See has been doing and has already achieved in the area of the protection of children.

"The first impression is that the report in some ways is not up to date, not taking into account some of the clear and precise explanations that were given to the committee in the in the encounter that the delegation of the Holy See had with the committee three or four weeks ago.

"My sense is that we have to continue to refine, to enact provisions that protect children in all their necessities so that they may grow and become productive adults in society and their dignity be constantly respected.

"And at the same time we have to keep in mind that even though there are so many millions, forty million cases of abuse a year regarding children and unfortunately some cases affect also Church personnel.

"We have to keep in mind that, we have to continue to combat this tragedy knowing that even a case of abuse of a child is a case too much."

The UN watchdog also called for an investigation of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland so that those responsible for abusing children could be prosecuted and to allow "full compensation be paid to the victims and their families". The committee said the Catholic Church had not yet taken measures to prevent a repeat of cases such as the Magdalene scandal, where girls were arbitrarily placed in conditions of forced labour.

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