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Vatican seeks to clean its slate before UN Torture Committee

09 May 2014

THE Roman Catholic Church has laicised 848 priests for child abuse in the past ten years, a UN committee has heard.

The figure was revealed by a Vatican delegation on Tuesday as they sought to reassure the UN's Committee Against Torture that the Church was upholding its responsibilities to eradicate the sexual abuse of children.

The Vatican signed an international anti-torture treaty in 2002, but this is the first time that the UN has interrogated the Church over its response to child abuse on the grounds that such abuse amounts to torture.

"There's no climate of impunity: there's total commitment to clean the house, to work to not have a repetition of abuses," the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, the Most Revd Silvano Tomasi CS, told the committee.

Archbishop Tomasi also said that the Church had punished a further 2572 priests since 2004 for child abuse. They had been banned from public ministry and most had been required to take up a life of penance and prayer.

The Vatican delegation also said that the practice of transferring abusing priests to other parishes had been ended, and that the Church had paid out almost £1.5 billion in compensation to victims since 1950.

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