A Vatican official has told the UN Committee against Torture that over the past 10 years, the Church has 'in a systematic, constructive and effective way,' worked to prevent clerical sexual abuse of minors, reports the Catholic News Service.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See representative to UN agencies in Geneva, said yesterday that the sexual abuse of children 'is a worldwide plague and scourge' that the Vatican, national bishops' conferences, religious orders and individual dioceses have worked seriously to eliminate from within the Church.
While the Archbishop mentioned 'some divergence of opinion' about whether child sexual abuse legitimately falls under the concern of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, he answered the committee members' questions about Vatican efforts to investigate allegations against clergy, punish offenders and cooperate with civil authorities.
The Holy See signed the international treaty in 2002 and submitted its first report on adherence to the treaty in 2012. The committee met in Geneva in late April and in May to review the reports of the Holy See and seven other countries. The committee hearings were live-streamed on the Internet.
The committee members' questions to Archbishop Tomasi and the rest of the Vatican delegation May 5-6 focused on the handling of the abuse crisis, but also included challenges to the Holy See's affirmation that in fulfilling its treaty obligations, it has direct jurisdiction only over the territory of Vatican City State and not over bishops, priests or other Catholics outside the Vatican.
The Archbishop told the committee: 'It is one thing to be able to exercise jurisdiction and another to encourage a certain type of activity' or adoption of certain policies in Catholic communities around the globe.'
Vatican has shown 'total commitment' in anti-abuse fight (AFP/West Australian)