In Geneva – and in the glare of the public for the first time – the Vatican is answering questions from the United Nations on child sex abuse by clergy.
The Holy See is a signatory of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. That requires it to answer questions about the scandal.
It was alleged the Church enabled the sexual abuse of thousands of children by protecting pedophile priests at the expense of its victims.
“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,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the hearing.
There was anger that the Vatican had earlier refused a request for data on abuse. Victims hope the hearing will prompt the Church to end what they see as secrecy.
“What we want to achieve is to create a culture in which people feel that they can ask questions to protect it (them) so that nobody else suffers what we have suffered. So, there will be no justice for us but fortunately there will be justice for future generations,” said Miguel Hurtado a member of the SNAP Victims Advocacy Group.
Thursday’s hearing is also seen by some as an indication as to how far the Vatican is prepared to co-operate with a major external inquiry into its conduct.
Pope Francis announced last month that a Vatican Commission would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church.