Holy See To UN Committee: 'Credible Accusations Will Not Be Ignored'

Makes Clarifications on Sex Abuse to UN Monitoring Body Against Torture

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The Holy See is making “every effort” to combat the “plague and scourge” of child sexual abuse and “condemns torture, including for those who are tortured and killed before they are born,” the Holy See representative to the United Nations in Geneva told a UN committee on Tuesday.

Addressing a hearing at the UN Committee on the Convention Against Torture, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Holy See «makes every effort to conduct ecclesiastical proceedings against clerics against whom credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors have been presented» in spite of the fact that it «does not have the competency or the ability to initiate criminal proceedings against crimes that are committed in territories outside Vatican City State.»

“This is done without substitution for or prejudices of other processes that are to be applied by the competent judiciary system in the state in which the accused person resides,» he added.

«Civil law regarding the reporting of the crime to the authorities should always be followed.» 

After the hearings ended, he told Vatican Radio that the experience was “constructive” and it allowed the Holy See to make “important clarifications,” referring to the hearings of the committee which is to monitor the application of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. 

During the meeting, the archbishop pointed out Pope Francis’ establishment of a Commission for the Protection of Children to safeguard minors in the Church. He also outlined the process and procedures in ecclesiastical proceedings.

Archbishop Tomasi also provided statistics about cases of clerical sexual abuse reported to the Vatican and their outcomes.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which is charged with investigating abuse claims against clergy — received «credible accusations» against 3,420 priests between 2004 and 2013, he said. The abuse, for the majority of the cases, was alleged to have occurred between 1950 and 1989, he said, noting that many of those priests are or have been jailed by civil courts for their crimes.

The Holy See dismissed 848 priests from the priesthood, during that same timeframe, as a result of allegations found to be true, he added.

The Holy See representative also stated that in another 2,572 cases, the accused, primarily made up of older priests, were ordered to not to have contact with children and to retreat to a life of prayer and penance.

The CAT meetings are routine in ensuring continued adherence to the international treaty the Holy See had signed in 2002, which also had necessitated the Holy See submitting a report in 2012. (D.C.L.)

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