The problem

Children have been sexually abused in religious institutions for decades, if not centuries, all over the world. Little respect for children as rights holders, a lack of transparency and arcane structures have allowed some of the worst crimes committed against children to continue.

Sexual violence against children violates so many of their rights, including their right to bodily integrity and freedom from violence and sexual exploitation. Denying victims justice and harbouring abusers (who often go on to abuse more children, again and again) violates children’s right to access justice and sets a dangerous tone for how powerful institutions view and treat children and their rights.

CRIN is campaigning to end sexual violence against children in religious institutions. As part of its review of the children’s rights situation in all States that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has asked the Holy See to provide all the information that it has on child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, monks and nuns around the world. This review took place on 16 January 2014, where CRIN reported LIVE

CRIN took this opportunity to launch this campaign to end sexual violence against children in religious institutions, starting with the Catholic Church. We know it is rife in other religious institutions, so we hope to conduct more research and work with more partners to expand the campaign.

Please email us at for further information. You can follow us on twitter and use #HolySeeConfess for Holy See campaign updates and to add your thoughts.

Child sexual abuse and the Holy See: the need for justice, accountability and reform 

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child sought detailed information from the Holy See on sexual abuse against children by Catholic clergy around the world, its cover-up within the Church and the denial of justice and compensation for victims. The scale of the abuse is starting to emerge - and it is huge - affecting countless victims around the world.

This review could happen because the Holy See is a UN Observer State that has voluntarily ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a binding treaty under international law that requires State Parties to report to the Committee on their adherence to the treaty.

CRIN produced a global research report that maps the scale of sexual abuse against children committed by clerics of the Catholic Church and evidence of cover-up attempts by the Vatican and Church authorities. It provides an overview of litigation brought by victims of abuse against Catholic clergy seeking remedies for gross violations of their rights.

This report is our attempt to show just how many children have suffered across the globe because of the abuse, and to document broken promises and alleged cover-ups by powerful members of the Vatican.

We know countless people have been affected and have been campaigning for decades. We believe in working collectively. Visit our get involved section of the campaign for how to contribute to campaign activities.