In February another U.N. panel, the Committee for the Rights of the Child, excoriated the church for shielding priests accused of sexually abusing children, by the thousands, around the world. It criticized the church for its lack of openness and responsiveness, and recommended the Vatican remove any priest suspected or convicted of child abuse and open its files on offenders and those involved in cover-ups.
Human rights groups have asked torture review boards to consider the issue as well. The World Organization Against Torture, and umbrella group of anti-torture groups, said in a statement, “The Holy See has failed in its duties to prevent torture and other acts of ill-treatment within its jurisdiction,” thus violating the U.N. Convention Against Torture.
The Vatican is a signatory to the U.N.'s 2012 Convention against Torture, but argues it is only responsible for enforcing its rules within the confines of Vatican City. A legal group representing the Survivors’ Network of Those abused by priests was critical of the Vatican’s report to the U.N. panel, required by all signatories, saying, “The Vatican has fallen woefully short of its obligation to prevent and protect against these crimes.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi asked the eight-member U.N. torture committee not to relent to “strongly ideological” lobby groups.
The hearing comes as members of a new Vatican sexual advisory board promised Saturday to develop methods to make bishops accountable for failing to report suspected examples of child abuse.