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Vatican Questioned Over Sex Abuse Scandal
The Vatican has been quizzed for the first time over its handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal.
At a UN hearing in Geneva, officials were asked a series of questions about why they would not release data and how they planned to prevent future abuse.
Kirsten Sandberg, chairwoman of the 18-strong committee, told the Vatican delegation: "The view of committee is that the best way to prevent abuses is to reveal old ones - openness instead of sweeping offences under the carpet.
"It seems to date your procedures are not very transparent."
The Vatican has long insisted it is not responsible for abusive priests, claiming they are not employees of the Vatican but members of the broader Catholic Church which it exercises limited control over.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, told the committee: "Priests are not functionaries of the Vatican. Priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."
A member of the committee asked about the Church's practice of moving priests suspected of abuse.
The Archbishop replied: "It is a no-go simply to move people from one diocese to another."
Officials insisted the Vatican had little jurisdiction to sanction paedophile priests, but conceded more needed to be done to build on progress already made.
Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor, said: "The Holy See gets it. Let's not say too late or not.
"But there are certain things that need to be done differently."
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for signatories to take all appropriate measures to keep children from harm.
The Vatican ratified the UN convention in 1990, but did not provide progress reports for nearly two decades.
Critics allege the church enabled the rape of thousands of children by encouraging a culture of cover-up to defend its reputation.
Groups representing victims of clerical abuse gave the committee hundreds of pages of documents.
The groups have welcomed the hearing as the first time the Vatican has had to publicly defend its record.
Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said the Vatican responses were "more of the same".
The UN committee is made up of independent experts and will deliver observations and non-binding recommendations on February 5.
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