The report is scathing.
The Vatican "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," a U.N. human rights committee charged Wednesday.
The Vatican is stunned, a little defensive, but standing firm in its homophobia.
The stinging language surprised the Vatican and put it in damage-control mode, with officials strongly defending the church and accusing the committee of allowing itself to be swayed by pro-gay ideologues. The Vatican, which defended itself at a U.N. committee hearing last month, said the panel ignored the measures the Holy See has already taken to protect children.
"I'm tempted to say that the text was probably written ahead of time," said the Vatican's U.N. ambassador, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.
The report was unstinting in it's criticism of the Church's handling of its sex abuse crisis.
"The committee expresses serious concern that in dealing with child victims of different forms of abuse, the Holy See has systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims," the report concluded.
At a news conference in Geneva, committee chairwoman Kirsten Sandberg ticked off some of the core findings: that bishops moved pedophile priests from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police, that known abusers are still in contact with children, and that the Vatican has never required bishops to report abusers to police.
It also targeted church attitudes on a number of hot-button issues.
The panel condemned church doctrine that it considers out of step with the principles of human rights and child welfare. In blunt language, the committee took particular aim at church stances on sexual orientation, reproductive health and gender equality. It delved into details, expressing its concerns, for instance, about the stereotyping of gender roles in Catholic school textbooks.
The Vatican pushed back hard.
The Vatican also slammed the UN for asking the Catholic Church to accept the practice of abortion, which Tomasi described as "a contradiction with the principle of life" that the UN itself should be defending. Tomasi said that the Committee did not seem to properly understand Church teachings on the matter.
The Vatican press office released a statement that said that the Holy See noted the recommendations, but expresses regret over “an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.”
The committee petitioned the Vatican to take immediate action.
Among other things, the panel called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn the abuse cases over to law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.
I wouldn't hold my breath.
The committee's recommendations are non-binding and there is no enforcement mechanism. Instead, the U.N. asked the Vatican to implement the recommendations and report back by 2017. The Vatican was 14 years late submitting its most recent report.
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