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By MICHELE M. BETTI | b&a opinions |

In the wake of a recent United Nations report blasting the Vatican for its record on child sexual abuse, Pope Francis issued a strong defense both of the Catholic church and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, saying “no one has done more” to combat exploitation of children.

Francis acknowledged that sexual abuse of minors leaves “very deep wounds,” and insisted that the church has turned a corner. “The Catholic church is perhaps the lone public institution to have moved with transparency and responsibility,” Francis said. “No one has done more, yet the church is the only one to have been attacked.”

Critics of the church’s record struck back immediately.

A statement from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a US-based advocacy group for victims of clerical abuse, said in a statement that the pope’s comments reflect “an archaic, defensive mindset that will not make kids safer.”

The United Nations released its report against the Vatican regarding child sexual abuse within churches. The report released on February 5, 2014 by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) gravely denounced the Catholic Church for covering up clergy obscenities and forcing abused children into silence.

The report further criticized the Vatican for forcing abused children to keep in touch with their aggressors, which had the consequence of creating further trauma to the abused.

The CRC requested the Vatican be transparent regarding pedophilia and immediately remove child abuse perpetrators, make available the Church’s archives on pedophile priests and nuns, and expose those covering their acts.  The CRC also insisted on a revision to Canon Law to ensure the full respect of this committee.  But, the Vatican is thumbing its nose at the United Nations report and being defensive regarding the findings claiming that the CRC was crossing the lines to change the teachings of the Holy See.

The United Nations committee has been working for many years gathering evidence related to child sexual abuse within the Vatican and the Catholic Church.  Allowing each state’s legislature to pass laws to hold these predators and institutions like the Catholic Church that cover up the abuse responsible for their actions exposes predators and takes them off the streets, out of commission, and takes away their opportunity to abuse again.

The Catholic Church has been lobbying for years against the interests of child abuse victims in state legislatures around the country blocking measures in states like California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and many states intended to widen the legal window for victims to file lawsuits against hidden predators and the entities that knew about these predators and covered up the abuse.

Please contact your state representatives to pass legislation and encourage victims and victims’ families to speak out against their predators and the institutions that shield and protect predators.

Copyright 2014, b&a opinions.