16 January 2014 Last updated at 16:40 GMT
UN panel confronts Vatican on child sex abuse by clergy
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi: “We are committed to holding inviolable the dignity … of every child”
Officials faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they would not release data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.
They insisted the Church had learnt from the crisis and had taken action to prevent future abuse.
Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.
Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.
The Holy See gets it that there are things that need to be done differently”
Bishop Charles SciclunaMember of Vatican delegation at hearing
The Vatican came to Geneva expecting a rough ride and it got one, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reports.
Victims say they hope the hearing, which is being broadcast live, will prompt the Church to end its “secrecy”.
Pope Francis announced last month that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight sexual abuse of children in the Church.
The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.
Victims’ group: “We are hoping that finally the truth will be exposed”
It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child sex abuse in Europe and beyond.
In a homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said abuse scandals were “the shame of the Church”.