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UN attacks church sex abuse cover-up

Vatican adopted policies that allowed priests to rape tens of thousands of children

A UN rights watchdog lambasted the Vatican for adopting policies that allowed priests to rape tens of thousands of children over decades.

The UN committee on the rights of the child demanded that the papacy "immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers" from the clergy and hand them over to local law enforcement.

Committee members also made unprecedented attacks on the Vatican for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should review policy to ensure children's rights and access to healthcare are guaranteed.

The committee said it was "gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed."

It slated the church for adopting policies that led to the continuation of abuse and the "impunity" of perpetrators.

The watchdog's recommendations are non-binding and the papal city-state has been asked to report on its progress in 2017, but the Vatican was 14 years late in submitting its most recent report.

The independent panel also said canon law must be amended so that child sexual abuses were considered crimes rather than "delicts against the moral."

's report was the result of the committee's grilling of Vatican officials last month on their progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Catholic church inaction over the Magdalene laundries in Ireland also came in for stern criticism.

Tens of thousands of women were incarcerated in the laundries where they were "forced to work in slavery-like conditions and were often subject to inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment as well as to physical and sexual abuse," the report said.

The watchdog called for an investigation so that "full compensation be paid to the victims and their families."

But the Vatican simply reiterated its "commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine" and said it would be "submitted to a thorough study and examination."

The Holy See did, however, express "regret" that the committee had attempted to "interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom."

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