Ruben Salazar (Photo: El Universal)

The United Nations (UN) released a scathing report Wednesday condemning what it painted as the Vatican’s deliberate efforts to protect perpetrators in the face of widespread child abuse and using Colombia’s Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos as an example of the structural impunity afforded child abusers in the clergy.

In the report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Vatican to reverse its longstanding policy of silence and interference regarding allegations of sexual violence and “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers from assignment.”

“In dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry,” reads the report, released annually according to the terms of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report is direct in its assertion 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.’’

In what the report cited as a typical example of the Church’s policy regarding these matters, former Colombian Cardenal Dario Castrillon Hoyos once came out in favor of what the report calls the Vatican’s “code of silence,” writing a letter in 2001 in support of French Bishop Pierre Pican’s decision not to denounce a priest later convicted of the rape and sexual assault of ten underage boys.

Castrillon served as prefect to the Congregation of the Clergy, a highly honored position within the Catholic hierarchy, prior to his resignation earlier this year for what was reportedly age-related issues.

The office of Colombian Cardenal Ruben Dario Salazar refused to comment on the UN’s report, directing Colombia Reports to official statements made by Vatican spokesman Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who conceded that “such crimes can never be justified” and that the canonical doctrine will be examined to ensure that it is ”in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The report went on to link the Church culture surrounding child abuse to its stance on other sex-related issues, such as gay marriage, divorce and abortion, all positions Colombia’s Catholic Church hierarchy has taken firm conservative stances on in the past.


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