Nightly News | February 05, 2014
>>> tonight a scathing report by united nations human rights group has slammed the vatican and the hierarchy of the church. it accuses the church of allowing decades of sexual abuse of children by priests and continuing to protect the perpetrators through what it called a code of silence . nbc's mike taibbi has our report.
>> reporter: pope francis greeting the faithful in the square today had already been dealing with steps to deal with what he called the shame of the church. saying the church imposed a code of silence over decades of priestly sexual abuse . moved abusers from par rish to p -- parish to parish to cover up abuse.
>> they have replaced the preservation of the reputation of the church and putting the perpetrators above children's best interests.
>> reporter: distorted and unfair, the vatican responded. saying the u.n. had failed to consider measures the church used to protect children. requested all the records of abuse claims. so more perpetrators can be held accountable. victims like barbara doris assaulted as a child for years by a local priest, are encouraged.
>> this isn't a moral failing. this isn't a mistake. this is crimes against children. and they need to be investigated by law enforcement .
>> reporter: will the u.n. report trigger further action by this hope?
>> the pope is on board in implementing the policies that pope benedict put into place that every priest who's been involved in abuse is thrown out.
>> reporter: but it went beyond priestly sexual abuse . it also criticized for their status on abortion and homosexuality. they called that an attempt to interfere with catholic church teaching and the exercise of religious freedom . but holding priests accountable for the abuse of children, the vatican was told today, is not belief but an issue of criminality.