The United Nations torture watchdog called on the Vatican on Friday to cooperate with civil authorities in prosecuting all cases of suspected sexual abuse by pedophile priests and to set up its own independent complaints mechanism.
It was the second time this year that a U.N. human rights body has criticized how Roman Catholic officials have handled the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Victims accuse the Vatican of still protecting abusers and covering up sex crimes, failing to punish perpetrators, refer them to the authorities or provide adequate compensation.
The Vatican told the committee last week the Church’s accusers were “fossilized in the past” when attitudes were different. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Church had developed model child protection policies over the last decade that other states and institutions might emulate.
The U.N. Committee against Torture, which examined the Holy See’s record earlier this month, said Vatican officials should monitor priests and “stop and sanction” conduct that violates the U.N. treaty against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The pact is known as the CAT.
It rejected the Vatican’s position that the Holy See has jurisdiction only in the tiny Vatican City State.
Any priest suspected of committing sexual abuse should be immediately suspended from his duties pending investigation and should not be transferred to another diocese to avoid punishment, it said.
The Vatican should “take effective measures to ensure that allegations received by its officials concerning violations of the Convention (against Torture) are communicated to the proper civil authorities to facilitate their investigation and prosecution of alleged perpetrators.”
The U.N. committee, composed of 10 independent experts, said that the Holy See had a responsibility under the treaty that extended to its officials working worldwide.
It specifically voiced concern at the case of Father Joseph Jayapaul, a priest formally accused of sexually abusing youth in Minnesota, who has returned to his native India.
Question of the week (Results)
If you headed the UN, what else might you recommend to the Vatican, one of the U.N.’s “non-member” states?
“As an Irish citizen, If I were in a position to have the UN take action against the Vatican, I would want the UN to establish a crimes against humanity investigation regarding the recent revelation that the bodies of some 800 children were discovered, apparently hidden, in a septic tank (human waste disposal area), in the small town of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. The bodies of these poor children were hidden by the Bon Secours Sisters. Apparently most of the children were starved to death.”
Runner up #1: Mary Lou
“ I would suggest to the Vatican that they liquidate some of their ill-got assets and use the money to provide health care to the many, many Catholic victims of AIDS worldwide. What torment has been inflicted on those who were commanded by their “celibate” male church leaders or fundamentalist Catholic partners to eschew condoms …. regardless of overwhelming scientific proof of their prophylactic effectiveness! “
Runner up #2: Emujoe
“I would have the catholic church override the non-contraception impediment and encourage women in those countries to use it (to reduce STIs as well). Although I’d discourage it, I would also allow freedom of choice in relation to abortion.”