Vatican officals accused of 'lying' before UN child rights panel

Thu 16 Jan 2014
By Administrator User

Victims of child sexual abuse describe Vatican representatives as 'evasive' at United Nations hearing on Children's Rights in Geneva.

The Vatican's been accused of telling lies before a United Nations panel investigating the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

The Holy See was grilled publicly for the first time today after being summoned to the UN building in Geneva to answer allegations that it protected clerics at the expense of their young victims.

Victims of abuse who were present described the evidence they heard from Vatican representatives as 'evasive' and 'predictable'. Sue Cox from victim support group Survivors Voice attended the hearing in Geneva.

She told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour why she's disappointed with the evidence being put forward:

However, during the exchanges the Catholic Church's spokesman pointed to successful prosecutions in the civil courts.

The Vatican's representative in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the hearing that the Holy See is committed to eliminating abuse.

He said:

"The Holy See has carefully delineated policies and procedures designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with respective state authorities to fight against this crime.

"The Holy See has also committed to listen carefully to victims of abuse and to address the impact such situations have on survivors of abuse and on their families.

"The vast majority of Church personnel in institutions and the local level have provided and continue to provide a wide variety of services to children by educating them and by supporting their families and by responding to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

"Egregious crimes of abuse committed against children have rightly been adjudicated and punished by the competent civil authorities in their respective countries."

Mr Tomasi also told the meeting the Vatican would welcome recommendations from the UN CRC. Many victims expected the Vatican to side-step questions at today's hearing but some of them have faith in Pope Francis, who has pledged a more open and transparent approach.

Speaking before the meeting, Anne Lawrence from Minster and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors told Premier that difficult questions will have to be answered before trust in the Catholic Church can ever be restored:

The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.

It ratified the convention in 1990, but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child sex abuse in Europe and beyond.

In December, the Vatican refused to provide a United Nations rights panel with information on the Church’s internal investigations into the sexual abuse of children by clergy, saying that its policy was to keep such cases confidential.

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