The leadership of the Roman Catholic church faces a fresh grilling by UN human rights observers on Monday as a delegation from the Holy See makes its debut appearance before the Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva.

Three months after the Vatican railed against the highly critical findings of a separate UN panel, the simmering tensions between the two bodies risk coming to boiling point again as sexual abuse victims and pro-choice advocates urge discussion of their respective issues, and Catholic groups push back against what they label “the new intolerance”.

Before the hearings on Monday and Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, issued a sternly worded warning to the UN that it should not give in to pressure from “strongly ideological” NGOs which he said were seeking to force their agenda on to the proceedings.

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