Vatican, clergy abuse come under U.N. scrutiny

UN-Vatican
The Vatican's U.N. ambassador, Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, left, spoke with the Vatican's former prosecutor of clerical sexual abuse, Charles Scicluna, at the headquarters of the United Nations high commissioner for human rights last January in Geneva, Switzerland.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

A second panel of the United Nations is investigating the Vatican and its response to child sexual abuse committed by members of the Roman Catholic clergy.

Earlier this year, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child called upon the top leadership of the Roman Catholic Church to remove all abusers from its roster immediately and report them to civil authorities. The Vatican, which already had a commission in place investigating the abuse scandal, bristled at what it saw as interference in its affairs.

Now, the body's Committee Against Torture will investigate the Vatican's record on responding to sexual abuse, on the grounds that children have been raped and rape is a form of torture.

From USA Today:

The hearing scheduled for May 5-6 in Geneva will look at whether the Vatican's record on child protection violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The Holy See ratified the treaty in 2002. ...

Last January, Vatican officials testified for eight hours before an obscure human rights committee on the scale of clergy sex abuse globally.

The Vatican was compelled to appear as a signatory to the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child, which requires governments to take all adequate measures to protect children from harm. The Holy See was one of the first states to ratify the treaty in 1990.

The U.N. committee issued a scathing report, accusing Vatican officials of systematically placing their own interests over those of victims. The Vatican condemned the findings as a reflection of "prejudiced" positions of anti-Catholic advocacy groups.

The Daily Circuit speaks with a legal expert and an abuse survivor about the dispute.

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