A United Nations committee released a report on Wednesday severely criticizing the Catholic Church for prioritizing the protection of abusive priests over victims, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators," the report said.
The U.N. also called for the Vatican to remove all suspected priests from their positions and release confidential archives to "hold abusers accountable."
The report continued that the Church, which signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, has "consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children's best interests" and accused them of "humiliating" families of victims into staying silent.
The Vatican eventually responded to the report, calling it "surprising" and "incorrect." In an interview with the Vatican Radio, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, also suggested the Church's stance on gay marriage and homosexuality influenced the report.
Last month, Tomasi said in an address to the U.N. committee that the Church had no responsibility for abusers because "priests are citizens of their own states, and they fall under the jurisdiction of their own country."
However, the U.N.'s report disagreed, claiming the priests are "bound by obedience to the pope" in canon law, making the Vatican responsible.