6 Feb 2014

Vatican denounced over child abuse

7:26 pm on 6 February 2014

The Vatican has been denounced in a United Nations report for failing to stamp out child abuse and told remove all clergy suspected of raping or molesting children.

The Vatican City.

The Vatican City. Photo: AFP

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says "tens of thousands of children worldwide" were abused systemically for years within the Catholic Church.

It urged the church hierarchy to "immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers and refer them to relevant law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution purposes".

Committee chair Kirsten Sandford says the Vatican must act.

In January this year, the Vatican confirmed that almost 400 priests had been defrocked in a two-year period by Pope Benedict XVI over claims of child abuse.

The UN committee's recommendations are non-binding and there is no enforcement mechanism.

Pope Francis has called sexual abuse of children "the shame of the Church" and has vowed to continue procedures put in place by his predecessor.

The Vatican has issued a statement saying the Church would study the report.

But shortly afterwards Vatican diplomat Archbishop Silvano Tomasi condemned the report as distorted and unfair, saying it did not take into account changes that the Church had made in the past 10 years or so to protect children.