GENEVA — The Vatican exercises effective worldwide control over its bishops and priests and must comply with the United Nations’ anti-torture treaty globally, a U.N. committee found Friday in a report that could expose the Catholic Church to new legal arguments by victims of clerical sex abuse. The U.N. Committee Against Torture concluded that Vatican officials failed to report abuse charges properly, moved priests rather than disciplined them, and failed to pay adequate compensation to victims. Though the panel stopped short of finding that the Holy See had violated its obligations under the anti-torture treaty, which it ratified in 2002, panel members said that was implicit in the criticisms.

“Legal scholars will tell you that when the committee addresses a problem and makes a recommendation, it sees the state as not meeting the requirements of the convention,” the panel’s vice chairperson, Felice Gaer, told reporters. “It’s absolutely clear what we’re saying.”

But the Vatican dismissed the 10-member panel’s central conclusions as “fundamentally flawed” and insisted it didn’t exercise direct control over its priests worldwide.