Pope Francis has received a lot of love due to his moderate beliefs and attempts to reform the now stagnant Roman Catholic Church. He might have a tougher time, however, convincing the United Nations that he is serious about reform. The UN watchdog agency for children’s rights, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, slammed the Vatican in a recent report for allegedly supporting policies that enabled pedophiles to abuse children and for covering up assaults.

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United Nations list of complaints is long

The United Nations left the gloves off when criticizing the Catholic Church. According to the report, the Vatican has yet to fully acknowledge the problem. The report claims that tens of thousands more children have been abused than the Vatican is fully acknowledging. The habit of covering up and minimizing the problem is leaving thousands of children across the globe at risk.

The UN also claims that dozens of child abusers may still have frequent contact with children and that the Vatican has created an environment of offenders’ mobility, whereby priests are merely relocated to different countries, rather than being prosecuted, removed from the the church, or having their contact with children minimized.

The Catholic Church has stated that it has set up new guidelines to protect children and will investigate all allegations. The church slammed the report, however, calling it outside interference and claiming that it is interfering with reform efforts.

Catholic Church’s image tarnished but Pope seen as positive influence

Pope Francis has promised to reform the church and has taken moderate stances on issues such as homosexuality, atheists, abortion, and other topics. At the same time, he has emphasized the need to be compassionate and to help the poor. So far, his moderate words have won him a fair number of supporters. A recent poll found 61% of Americans have a positive view of the Pope, while only 12% had a negative view. Another poll found that 88% of Catholics support the Pope, while 75% of Americans in general believe he is doing a good job.

Still, confidence in the Catholic Church remains low following years of child abuse scandals. A 2012 poll found that 66% of Americans and 58% of Catholics believed the church was doing a poor job of handling the child abuse scandal. Just 13% of Americans and 31% of Catholics thought the church was actually doing a good job.

With the child abuse problem being so widespread, Pope Francis will face an uphill battle in reforming the church. Decades-long policies that encouraged secrecy will be difficult to undo, but if the church is to remain relevant in religious and political affairs, reform may be necessary for survival.