US legal system accused of laxity over child abuse

February 19, 2013 - 12:56:33 am

VATICAN CITY: A UN committee has accused US legal authorities of failing to fully pursue cases of child abuse in religious groups, an issue especially troubling the Roman Catholic Church.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child wrote this month that it was “deeply concerned” to find widespread abuse by clerics and staff of religious institutions and “a lack of measures ... to properly investigate cases and prosecute them”.

Britain’s National Secular Society, which drew attention yesterday to the little-noticed report, said it hoped the Catholic Pope to be elected next month would open Church files to help prosecute as yet undiscovered cases of clerical abuse. The scandal of predator priests has haunted the pontificate of Pope Benedict, who will resign on February 28. The Pope has apologised for the abuse and met victims in several countries, but cases and damning internal files are still coming to light.

After years of legal battles, the Los Angeles archdiocese bowed to a court order last month and released 12,000 pages of files showing its former head, Cardinal Roger Mahony, had sent accused abusers out of state to avoid justice in the 1980s.

“The committee is deeply concerned at information of abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organisations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale,” said the report, which gave no details. REUTERS