"The Holy See takes note of the concluding observations on its reports, which will be submitted to a thorough study and examination…according to international law and practice," the Vatican said in a statement.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child accused the Church in its report of falling far short of its stated commitment to stem abuse by priests and lay employees and called on the Vatican to remove all those suspected of raping or molesting children.
The report followed a landmark hearing last month during which members of the committee – made up of 18 independent human rights experts from around the globe – grilled senior Churchmen and repeatedly questioned the Vatican's resolve.
While agreeing to study the report on abuse, the Vatican reacted strongly to what it slammed as "interference" into Church teachings on abortion and homosexuality, after the UN called on the ancient institution to modernize and amend its attitudes.
The Vatican "regrets to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom."
It said it "reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child…according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine."
The committee said in its report that "tens of thousands of children worldwide" had been abused systemically for years within the Catholic Church.
It urged the Vatican to "review its position on abortion which places obvious risks on the life and health of pregnant girls" and called on it for greater flexibility in "identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted."
It also called on the Church to "make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation" in an effort to help "the decriminalization of homosexuality" internationally.