Child Abuse and The Holy See. The need for justice, accountability and reform

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CRIN, Child Rights International Network

Child Rights International Network (CRIN) has released a preliminary report documenting the scope of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and evidence of cover up attempts by the Vatican and Church authorities. The newly released report coincides with the UN review of the Holy See’s children’s rights record that took place in Geneva, January 16, 2014. The report maps sexual abuse against children in the Catholic Church and Catholic institutions across the world, and provides an overview of litigation brought by victims of abuse against Catholic clergy seeking remedies for gross violations of their rights. The scale of the abuse is huge, affecting countless victims around the world.

Along with mapping the global scale of the abuse, the report illustrates a complete lack of transparency and respect for victim’s rights by the Holy See. It highlights the Holy See’s attempts to deal with child sexual abuse in the Church, including the “geographical cure” – moving priests accused of abuse to another parish, or overseas on a mission, where they continue to have unfettered access to children. The report also includes a “table of contradictions” showing historical promises made by the Holy See compared to what officials actually did. There remains no consideration for the welfare of the victims and no penalties for clerics who mishandle abuse claims. As a State party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See has agreed to promote and protect the best interests of the child. The sexual abuse of minors implicating members of the clergy around the world, and subsequent cover-ups, raises serious questions about the Holy See’s willingness to meet its obligations under the convention.

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