UN Condemns Vatican Sex Abuse, Abortion Policies

The United Nations came out with fierce charges against the Vatican Wednesday, continuing a long-standing battle between international organization and the Holy See. The U.N. accused the Vatican of adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and sexually assault thousands of children over the course of decades. The report released by the Committee on the Rights of a Child also condemned the Catholic Church's views on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality.

The account details that the Vatican "systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims."

In addition to the scathing remarks, the U.N. called on the Vatican to remove all known or suspected child abusers and requested the Holy See to open its archives on the concealed crimes. The Vatican acknowledged the committee's conclusions on Wednesday, but says that it "regrets" the report's attempts at interfering with their teachings. A statement from the Offical Vatican Network reads:

The Holy See does, however, regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.

It goes on to further explain its commitment to "defending and protecting the rights of the child," along with moral and religious values.

The U.N. accusations come after a January hearing in Geneva where Vatican representatives were thoroughly questioned on the topic. While the recommendations are non-binding, it puts mounting pressure on the Vatican and the Catholic leader to make changes.

Pope Francis recently launched an effort to combat the issue, setting up a committee to fight against child sex abuse by priests. He also openly addressed the matter in December 2013, extending his prayers for the first time to victims and their families.