The Vatican has told a UN inquiry that it has detailed policies and procedures to help eliminate child abuse in the Catholic Church and to collaborate with state authorities to fight the crime.
It made its remarks to a UN panel in Geneva.
The panel is conducting the first public international inquiry into
the Church's response to the abuse scandal since it erupted almost two
This morning's hearings in Geneva were to establish how the Holy See
has fulfilled its obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of
The Catholic Church signed up to the charter 25 years ago.
many victims' advocates claim the Vatican has failed to protect
children's rights by covering up sexual abuse and shielding
priest-perpetrators, in particular, from the civil law.
The Church's spokesman pointed to successful prosecutions in the civil courts.
Head of the mission Silvano M Tomasi told the meeting the Holy See is committed to eliminating abuse.
"The Holy See has carefully delineated policies and procedures
designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with respective
state authorities to fight against this crime," he said.
"The Holy See has also committed to listen carefully to victims of
abuse and to address the impact such situations have on survivors of
abuse and on their families."
Mr Tomasi is the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations.
"The vast majority of church personnel in institutions and the local
level have provided and continue to provide a wide variety of services
to children by educating them and by supporting their families and by
responding to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs," he added.
"Egregious crimes of abuse committed against children have rightly
been adjudicated and punished by the competent civil authorities in
their respective countries."
Mr Tomasi also told the meeting the Vatican would welcome recommendations from the UN CRC.
But a spokesman for the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by
Priests responded that across the world, prosecutions have happened
despite, and not because of, the Church's efforts.
The panel's chairperson raised the Church's conduct in Ireland and Spain while other panellists cast the net wider.
However, the Vatican emphasised that it is anxious to learn from the UN.
Pope Francis last month ordered the formation of a child protection
committee to address the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic
The group will also consider ways to better screen priests, protect
minors and help victims in the face of charges the Vatican has not done
enough to guard the vulnerable or make amends.
The Vatican refused to provide the UN rights panel with information
on the church's internal investigations into the sexual abuse of
children by clergy.
The Holy See said it would not release information on its internal
investigations into abuse cases unless required to do so by a request
from a state or government to cooperate in legal proceedings.