The Roman Catholic Church is still choosing self-preservation over full disclosure in child sex abuse cases, according to a report mapping the phemonenon of clerical paedophilia.
A 48-page document, published on Wednesday by the UK-based charity Child Rights International Network (CRIN), said there were still no global guidelines to directly deal with the welfare of the victims and that serious cases were not being sent to civil judicial authorities, despite decades of allegations and controversy.
CRIN director Veronica Yates said: "Child sexual abuse in religious institutions is one of the worst crimes ever committed against children.
"Our research shows that allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have been made in every corner of the world, yet the Holy See continues to harbour perpetrators of abuse, obstruct justice for victims and deny accountability."
The report was published before a UN Committee on the Rights of a Child (CRC) meeting in Geneva on Thursday that will question a Holy See delegation on issues of transparency, access to justice for children and protection from violence in the church.
In July the CRC requested detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of of the clergy, brothers and nuns brought to the attention of the Holy See, which is recognised by international law as a sovereign entity headed by the pope.
But the request was denied by the Holy See in December, saying it was "deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse" but that its jurisdiction was limited.
This refusal overshadowed an earlier announcement from Pope Francis, who authorised a committee to provide advice on protecting children from sexually abusive priests and helping existing victims.
There could be more damaging revelations in the future, with the archdiocese of Chicago set to release thousands of pages of documents containing information about how clerics dealt with abuse.
The handover, to lawyers representing victims, is expected on Wednesday and will include complaints, personnel documents and files for about 30 priests wuth substantiated abuse allegations.