A United Nations panel is demanding that the Vatican hand over detailed information on child sex abuse cases involving Catholic clergy.
In a document published online, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked the Vatican to come clean with how it addresses children's rights around the world, including what measures it takes when dealing with sexual violence.
The panel, which polices the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, wants the Catholic Church to reveal confidential records on investigations and legal proceedings against clergy members accused of sexual crimes on children.
The Geneva-based committee also wants to know what measures are being taken to ensure that clergy members accused of sexual abuses are not in contact with children and how members are told to report allegations of sexual violence.
The document mentions specific cases of abuse, including the Magdalene Laundries, which were Catholic-run workhouses in Ireland where thousands of women and girls were forced to work unpaid and under harsh conditions. The committee wants any records looking into complaints of torture and inhumane treatment as well as information on the number of babies taken away from their mothers at the laundries.
It also wants records on investigations into the Legion of Christ in Mexico, where young boys have accused the congregation of separating them from their families.
The list of demands comes ahead of a planned meeting between the UN and Holy See officials in January.
Clergy abuse victims had been calling for swift and bold action from Pope Francis as soon as he was elected in March. Weeks after his election, Francis directed the Vatican to act decisively on clergy sex abuse cases and to take measures against pedophile priests, but the directive was dismissed by some advocates as just talk.
Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had been accused by sex abuse victims and activists of trying to cover up cases of pedophilia within the church.