UK & World News
Vatican Faces UN Grilling Over Child Abuse
An Irish victim of child abuse has urged the Catholic Church to "admit what they did" when Vatican officials appear before the UN Committee on Children's Rights in Geneva.
Elizabeth Coppin was just 14 when detained in a Catholic laundry, where nuns shaved her head, gave her a boy's name and held her in solitary confinement, scarring her for life.
She said: "I can never forget what happened to me with the state and the Church, the abuse they inflicted on me as a human being, I will take that abuse with me to my grave."
The Church called them "Magdalene Laundries" - correctional facilities for women deemed "wayward" - but residents, forced to work without pay, described them as "hell on earth".
Last year, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny branded them "Ireland's shame" and apologised to the hundreds of women who suffered abuse in the institutions.
Victims expect the Vatican to side-step questions at today's hearing but some of them have faith in Pope Francis, who has pledged a more open and transparent approach.
"He's a man of the world. We need men of the world and women of the world, not hiding behind a title or behind a palace or behind a cape. That's not how the Catholic Church is supposed to be," said Ms Coppin.
Vatican officials will have arrived in Geneva to discover that Ms Coppin, now aged 64, has taken her case to the UN Committee Against Torture, claiming violation of human rights.
She fled to England but failed to escape the memories and has now returned to her native County Kerry in search of justice and financial retribution for her "stolen years".
She said: "I was locked away right up 'til I was 19. I missed all my childhood, I had no birthdays. I didn't even know when my birthday was until I got my records."
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