A UNITED NATIONS committee has demanded that the Vatican reveal potentially explosive details about the systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.
Campaigners have called on Pope Francis, who was elected in March, to make tackling the issue of sexually abusive priests a priority of his papacy.
The UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child said yesterday that "given the scale" of the sexual violence acknowledged by the Holy See, it must provide detailed information on all cases of abuse committed by clergy and on its investigations into such abuses.
The Vatican was told to show whether it had implemented measures "to ensure that no member of the clergy currently accused of sexual abuse be allowed to remain in contact with children".
The UN committee demanded to know about specific cases in which bishops or other Catholic leaders had failed to report suspected abuse to the police.
The Vatican, which is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has until January to compile the information for a meeting of the committee at which its officials will be questioned.
Separately yesterday, Pope Francis was named 'Man of the Year' by the Italian edition of 'Vanity Fair', with a message of support from Elton John.
The latest edition of the magazine said the Argentinian pontiff, elected in March, had earned the accolade for his words and deeds during his first 100 days in office.
The front cover of the magazine, to be published today, shows 76-year-old Francis, wearing plain white robes and a white skull cap, waving at a crowd.
Five celebrities, including Elton John and the Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, were quoted by the magazine in praise of Francis, the first Jesuit Pope.
"Francis is a miracle of humility in an era of vanity," Elton John told the magazine. The British singer and composer said he hoped that Francis's message would reach marginalised groups in society which "have a desperate need of his love", including homosexuals. (© Daily Telegraph, London)