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UN To Grill Vatican On Sex Abuse Scandal Again

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AP Photo / Andrew Medichini

The hearing scheduled for May 5-6 in Geneva will look at whether the Vatican's record on child protection violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The Holy See ratified the treaty in 2002.

Vatican spokesmen said Monday they could not immediately comment.

Last January, Vatican officials testified for eight hours before an obscure human rights committee on the scale of clergy sex abuse globally.

The Vatican was compelled to appear as a signatory to the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child, which requires governments to take all adequate measures to protect children from harm. The Holy See was one of the first states to ratify the treaty in 1990.

The U.N. committee issued a scathing report, accusing Vatican officials of systematically placing their own interests over those of victims. The Vatican condemned the findings as a reflection of "prejudiced" positions of anti-Catholic advocacy groups.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit legal group based in New York, submitted reports on behalf of victims to both committees urging closer U.N. scrutiny of the church record on child abuse. For the upcoming hearing before the U.N. Committee Against Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights argued the rape of children by clergy amounted to torture and inhuman treatment, and the Vatican hasn't done enough to stop the abuse.

Last Friday, Pope Francis said he took personal responsibility for the "evil" of clergy sex abuse, sought forgiveness from victims and said the church must be even bolder in efforts to protect children. But Mary Caplan of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said children are still vulnerable in the church because "that unhealthy, rigid, secretive, hierarchical, virtually all-male structure is not changing."

The Survivors' Network last year had separately asked the International Criminal Court to investigate former Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity over clergy abuse. The court, based in The Hague, rejected the request.

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AP reporter Frances D'Emilio contributed from Rome.