UN Questions Vatican on Sex Abuse Scandal

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A U.N. committee compared the Vatican's handling of the global priest sex abuse scandal with torture Monday, raising the possibility that its failure to investigate clergy and their superiors could have broader legal implications. (May 5)

SHOTLIST:

AP TELEVISION - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Geneva - May 5, 2014

1. SOUNDBITE (English) Barbara Blaine, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests:

"It's very important to not mistake statements and promises for action. The types of action that would actually protect children would be if Pope Francis were to immediately remove all those who had been credibly accused from ministry today. That would make children safer."

++SOUNDBITES SEPARATED BY WHITE FLASH++

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican's UN Observer:

"I think in this kind of situation there will never be enough done. The damage has been done, reparation has to continue."

++SOUNDBITES SEPARATED BY WHITE FLASH++

3. SOUNDBITE (English) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican's UN Observer:

"Some of the abuser priests, most of the abuser priests, that we know of have been defrocked. So there has been action. And the action has been effective, because now there is a reduction of cases."

STORYLINE:

In its second grilling at the United Nations this year, the Vatican on Monday sought to limit its responsibility for the global priest sex abuse scandal by undercutting arguments it had violated an international treaty against torture and inhuman treatment.

The Vatican delegation's appearance in Geneva is the first time that the committee that oversees the UN Convention Against Torture, which the Vatican ratified in 2002, has hauled the Holy See before its members.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, lost no time asserting that its responsibility for enforcing the UN treaty against torture only applies within the confines of the tiny Vatican City, which has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants in an area less than half a square-kilometer in size, making it the smallest country in the world.

When they signed the treaty, Vatican officials said they were only doing so on behalf of Vatican City not the Holy See, which is the governing structure of the universal church.

On the sidelines of Monday's meeting, Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that Pope Francis should "immediately remove all those who had been credibly accused (of sex abuse) from ministry today".

Tomasi acknowledged that "in this kind of situation there will never be enough done".

"The damage has been done, reparation has to continue," he told AP.

The UN committee, which is composed of independent experts, not other UN member states, will issue its final observations and recommendations on May 23.

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