Vatican: “No Excuse” for Child Abuse

Officials from the Holy See testify at a hearing before the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

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The Vatican publicly confronted the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church at length Thursday, saying there can be “no excuse” for child abuse.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva, told a U.N. hearing “such crimes can never be justified.” Tomasi said that the church welcomes suggestions that could help promote respect for the rights of children.

The hearing is part of a U.N. investigation into the Holy See’s compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The church sent a five-person delegation to Geneva for the hearings, including its former chief sex-crimes prosecutor Monsignor Charles Scicluna. Advocacy groups acknowledge a different tone under Pope Francis, but want to see more sweeping changes in how the Vatican deals with sexual molestation by members of the clergy.

While the Vatican is addressing the issue in public at the hearing, the Holy See has been criticized for not sharing the results of its internal inquiry into sex abuse with the U.N. Critics say the Catholic Church helped cover up incidents of sexual abuse by priests over several decades.