UN report demands Vatican act against child sex abuse
The United Nations demanded that the Vatican "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers and turn them over to civil authorities, in an unprecedented and scathing report today.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said church officials had imposed a "code of silence" on clerics to prevent them reporting attacks to police, and moved abusers from parish to parish "in an attempt to cover up such crimes".
It said the Holy See must hand over an archive of evidence about the abuse of tens of thousands of children, and take measures to prevent a repeat of cases such as the scandal of Ireland's Magdalene laundries, where girls were forced to work in church-run institutions.
The Vatican responded quickly with a statement saying the Roman Catholic Church would study the report and was committed to "defending and protecting the rights of the child".
But shortly afterwards Vatican diplomat Archbishop Silvano Tomasi condemned the report as distorted and unfair, saying it did not take into account changes that the Church had made in the past 10 years or so to protect children.
The exceptionally blunt paper - the United Nations' broadest critique of the Church hierarchy - followed its public grilling of Vatican officials last month.