January 16

Vatican comes under sharp criticism for sex abuse

A U.N. committee is investigating the Holy See’s failure to abide by terms of Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

But victims groups and human rights organizations provided the U.N. committee with the Vatican’s own documentation showing how it discouraged bishops from reporting abusers to police. In one famous case, a Vatican cardinal sent a directive to Irish bishops warning them to strike any mandatory reporting of abusers to police from their internal policies.

The Irish prime minister cited that directive and accusations that the Vatican had undermined a string of investigations into sex abuse in a remarkable 2011 dressing-down of the Holy See that culminated with Ireland’s decision to close its Vatican embassy.

Tomasi was also asked about the case of the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who is under investigation by Dominican prosecutors for alleged abuse. The Vatican recalled Archbishop Josef Wesolowski in August, before Dominican prosecutors announced their investigation, and he hasn’t been seen since.

Tomasi dodged the committee’s question about whether Wesolowski would be turned over to secular authorities for prosecution. The Vatican has said it doesn’t extradite its own citizens. Rather, Tomasi said Wesolowski is being investigated by the Vatican’s own prosecutors.

“It will be judged with the severity that the crimes might demand,” Tomasi assured the committee.

Scicluna, a Maltese bishop, has previously said bishops who failed to discipline pedophile priests or report them to police must be held accountable.

He appeared to refer to that in saying that criminal prosecutors must go after anyone – “whoever these people are” – who obstructs justice.

Victims groups and human rights organizations were closely monitoring the hearing.

“I think it’s time for the church to stop this secrecy,” Teodoro Pulvirenti, who said he was abused by a priest, told The Associated Press in New York. “I believe the church puts too much its reputation before the victims and you know the pain of this abuse that we carry. That’s why I was so excited when I heard about this final meeting between the Vatican representatives and the U.N.”

Winfield reported from Rome.

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