Cardinal Roger Mahony and other top Roman Catholic officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles worked behind the scenes to protect priests involved in sexual abuse of children. (File photo)
The United Nations has accused the United States for failing to pursue cases of child sex abuse among religious leaders and groups.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report this month highlighting widespread sexual abuse committed by clerics and staff of religious institutions in America, along with a lack of measures “to properly investigate cases and prosecute them".
"The committee is deeply concerned at information of sexual abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organizations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale," the report said.
This comes as the American Catholic Church attempts to tackle an ongoing nationwide scandal over a pattern of covering-up allegations of sexual crimes committed by abusive priests.
Last week, Pope Benedict announced his resignation from his position, citing an inability to carry out his papal duties, while also apologizing for the widespread sexual abuse in the church, giving hope to those who seek to open Church files to help prosecute undiscovered cases of clerical sexual cruelty.
"We can only hope that his successor opens the secret files and treats victims with the respect they deserve," said Keith Porteous Wood, the director of the National Secular Society.
Sexual abuses in the Catholic Church arose in the 1980s and hit a major crisis in 2002 when systematic cover-ups were exposed.
Approximately 80 percent of reported cases of sexual abuse of minors worldwide have happened in the United States occurring in cities across the country, including Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Beach, Philadelphia and Portland, as well as in dioceses across Europe.
The Church and its insurance companies in the US have paid over USD 2 billion in damages to the victims of abuse.