VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis came under new pressure Wednesday to punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests when a U.N. human rights panel accused the Vatican of systematically protecting its reputation instead of looking out for the safety of children.
In a scathing report, the United Nations committee said the Holy See maintained a “code of silence” that enabled priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children worldwide through decades with impunity.
Among other things, the panel called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn the abuse cases over to law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.
The committee largely brushed aside the Vatican’s claims it already instituted new safeguards, and it accused the Roman Catholic Church of still harboring criminals.
“The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See 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 panel said.