The U.N. Committee against Torture released the conclusions following a hearing with a Vatican delegation, praising some aspects and criticizing others, in implementing the treaty against torture.
Although the committee's scope of responsibility is torture, the report centered almost exclusively on the handling of child sex abuse by priests. The report praised Benedict XVI for condemning all forms of torture, including the death penalty.
It also had positive words for the Commission for the Protection of Minors, Pope Francis created, calling for greater transparency and accountability. The committee also commended the Pope's statement on the Vatican handling of the sex abuse crisis.
"We will not step back with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children.”
During the April hearing, the Vatican reported 3,420 "credible allegations of sexual abuse,” which resulted in 848 priests defrocked and 2,572 other punishments. However, in its conclusions, the U.N. Committee criticized the Vatican for not doing enough to report sex abuse cases to police.
Perhaps the harshest criticism was for the Vatican's monitoring of priests accused of abuse. The report cited instances of priests continuing to abuse children, after they "were transferred to other dioceses and institutions where they remained in contact with minors and others who are vulnerable.” It also called on the Vatican to fully and fairly compensate victims of abuse.
In a statement, the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, denounced the assumption that sexual abuse by individuals was a form of torture, calling it misleading and "counter-productive.” They added that this assumption is not supported under the convention.
The statement also questioned the notion that all priests are under the legal jurisdiction of the Vatican, saying the treaty against torture applies exclusively to the small Vatican City State. However, the Vatican said it would "give serious consideration” to the Committee's recommendations dealing with reporting abuse to police, transferring accused priests to avoid punishment, and compensating victims.