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The United Nation Committee on the Rights of the Child has strongly questioned the Vatican’s commitment to children’s rights, as reported in The Guardian [The linked report may contain details that could cause distress].

In particular, the committee slammed the practice of moving priests found to have abused children from parish to parish or to other countries “in an attempt to cover up such crimes”. Last month a Vatican delegation in Geneva for questioning by the panel accepted criticisms of this practice and said it no longer went on.

But the committee nonetheless noted: “The practice of offenders’ mobility, which has allowed many priests to remain in contact with children and to continue to abuse them, still places children in many countries at high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children.”

The Committee not only questions the Vatican’s response to the abuse of children, but more generally the Church’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality.

It is great to see that, finally, the Vatican is being held to account for the systemic failure to protect children.

The Committee will undoubtedly come under fierce criticism for its direct assessment of the Vatican’s appalling failings in this area. But religion has shielded the abuse of children, some of whom experiencing vulnerabilities and disadvantage that the Church should have been protecting, for far too long.

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