UN committee on torture slates Vatican response to abuse

The United Nations Committee against Torture has issued a damning report on the Vatican’s response to the clergy child sex abuse crisis.

Among the committee’s accusations were failures to report allegations of abuse to authorities, and refusing to disclose information for criminal proceedings.

The report cited Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Papal Nuncio to Australia, who, it said, last year invoked diplomatic immunity when he refused to disclose documents about priests, including a notorious paedophile.

The committee was also troubled by “numerous reports” in which clergy under investigation were transferred to other dioceses where they were able to avoid punishment.

It also wants an update on the status of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican removed him from his position last year after accusations he paid for sex with boys.

In a report released on May 23, the committee on torture asked the Vatican to establish an independent abuse complaints system.

It also asked that meaningful sanctions be imposed on Church authorities that fail to follow Church law in responding to abuse allegations.

And it wants Church officials worldwide to be required to report abuse allegations to local police.

The Vatican has strongly recommended such reporting, but it is obligatory only when local civil law requires it.

The committee praised Pope Francis for establishing the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, but wants to know more details about how it will work.

It also praised the Pope for “acknowledging the damage done by the sexual abuse of children by some priests”.

In response to the report, the Vatican said it would “give serious consideration” to the recommendations.

But it contested the committee’s assumptions about the extent of its jurisdictional powers around the world.

The Vatican statement also acknowledged that sex abuse is as “a serious crime and a grave violation of human dignity”.

But it said it cannot be equated to state-sponsored torture under the terms of the treaty the UN committee overseas.

The committee on torture’s report came three months after the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child accused the Vatican of systematically adopting policies that allowed abuse.

Sources

News category: World.

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