Vatican under sharp criticism for sex abuse

2014-01-16 15:42
Former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse Charles Scicluna, waits for the start of a questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children at the headquarters of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. (File, AP)

Former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse Charles Scicluna, waits for the start of a questioning over clerical sexual abuse of children at the headquarters of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - The Vatican came under blistering criticism from a UN committee on Thursday for its handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal, facing its most intense public grilling ever over allegations that it protected pedophile priests at the expense of victims.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor, acknowledged that the Holy See had been slow to face the crisis but said that it was now committed to doing so.

He encouraged prosecutors to take action against anyone who obstructs justice - a suggestion that bishops who moved priests from diocese to diocese should be held accountable.

"The Holy See gets it," Scicluna told the committee. "Let's not say too late or not. But there are certain things that need to be done differently."

He was responding to a grilling by the UN committee over the Holy See's failure to abide by terms of a treaty that calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to keep children from harm. Critics allege the church enabled the rape of thousands of children by protecting pedophile priests to defend its reputation.

The committee's main human rights investigator, Sara Oviedo, was particularly tough, pressing the Vatican on the frequent ways abusive priests were transferred rather than turned in to police. Given the church's "zero tolerance" policy, she asked, why were there "efforts to cover up and obscure these types of cases."

Another committee member, Maria Rita Parsi, an Italian psychologist and psychotherapist, pressed further: "If these events continue to be hidden and covered up, to what extent will children be affected?"

Reputation

The Holy See ratified the convention in 1990 and submitted a first implementation report in 1994. But it didn't provide progress reports for nearly two decades. It only submitted one in 2012 after coming under criticism following the 2010 explosion of child sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond.

Victims groups and human rights organisations teamed up to press the UN committee to challenge the Holy See on its abuse record, providing written testimony from victims and evidence outlining the global scale of the problem.

Their reports cite case studies in Mexico and Britain, grand jury investigations in the US, and government fact-finding inquiries from Canada to Ireland to Australia that detail how the Vatican's policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.

The Holy See has long insisted that it wasn't responsible for the crimes of priests committed around the world, saying priests aren't employees of the Vatican but are rather citizens of countries where they reside and subject to local law enforcement. It has maintained that bishops were responsible for the priests in their care, not the pope.

But victims groups and human rights organisations provided the UN committee with the Vatican's own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police.

Committee member Jorge Cardona Llorens, a Spanish international law professor, demanded to know how the Vatican would create "specific criteria" for putting children's interests first, because there weren't any yet in place.

Scicluna said the Holy See wanted to be a model for how to protect children and care for victims.

"I think the international community looks up to the Holy See for such guidance. But it's not only words, it has to be commitment on the ground."

He added: "The states who are cognizant of obstruction of justice need to take action against citizens of their countries who obstruct justice," Scicluna said. Scicluna, a Maltese bishop, has previous said bishops who failed to do the right thing with pedophile priests must be held accountable.

Victims groups and human rights organisations were closely monitoring the hearing, too.

"I think it's time for the church to stop this secrecy," Teodoro Pulvirenti, who said he was abused by a priest, told The Associated Press in New York.

"I believe the church puts too much its reputation before the victims and you know the pain of this abuse that we carry. That's why I was so excited when I heard about this final meeting between the Vatican representatives and the UN."

- AP
Read more on:    un  |  vatican city  |  switzerland  |  child abuse  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Motoring
 

Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

 
 

Men24.com

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.