Cardinals attend a mass at the St. Peter's Basilica before the start of the conclave on March 12, 2013, at the Vatican.

United Nations Tells Vatican to Remove Child Abusers

U.N. report criticizes the Vatican’s handling of child abuse by priests.

Cardinals attend a mass at the St. Peter's Basilica before the start of the conclave on March 12, 2013, at the Vatican.

A United Nations report claims the Vatican has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

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A United Nations panel criticized the Vatican in a report it released Wednesday, castigating the way in which it handled the sexual abuses cases that have remained a shadow over the Catholic Church over the past two decades. 

In the report released by the committee, it told the Vatican to "immediately remove" all clergy who are known or suspected of abusing children. 

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The Committee on the Rights of the Child, one of the many divisions of the U.N., claims the Vatican “has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”

The report told the Catholic leaders to end the practice of transferring priests accused of child abuse from parish to parish. 

The committee also accused the “Holy See” of valuing the reputation of the Church above the safety and well-being of children, the New York Times said.

The report also addressed the church's stance on homosexuality, contraception and abortion. It said the Vatican should modify its policy on homosexuals and abortion and teach sex education in Catholic schools.

This report comes only a month after the Vatican disclosed the defrocking of 400 priests in two years, on account of child abuse at a public hearing by the U.N., the BBC reported. 

The Vatican’s lack of transparency and cooperation for investigations of child abuse cases was also noted in the report.

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“The highest levels of the Holy See” had avoided, and in some cases explicitly rejected, cooperation with the judicial authorities, according to the report. Even during a meeting held last month, Vatican spokesmen said that they understood that things needed to be done differently but that punishing the child abusers was the job of the civil authorities, The New York Times reported.

The Vatican responded to the U.N.’s accusations Wednesday, in a statement that said while it remains devoted to protecting children, it is also disappointed in the committee’s attempt "to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom," The Associated Press reported.