GENEVA - The Vatican will submit a long-overdue report on its treatment of children to the United Nations this fall, the Holy See's envoy in Geneva said Monday.

The Holy See was originally due to submit a progress report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1997, but failed to do to year after year without explanation.

"From what I'm able to say it's that (in) September or October it will be presented," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi.

The Vatican diplomat said last year that the report's release was imminent. But he told reporters in Geneva on Monday that "imminent, in the tradition of the Church, it's a very long time."

Human rights groups have urged the Vatican to explain in the report its role in the cover-up of child abuse committed by Catholic clergy.

"It will be interesting to see if they come clean on this in September," said Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a secular group that frequently criticizes the Vatican at the UN. "We've been waiting for this report for a very long time."

Tomasi said he welcomed Ireland's recent decision to investigate allegations of child abuse at Catholic-run institutions in the country.

Earlier this month the UN Committee against Torture urged the Irish government to investigate claims that women and girls sent to work in Catholic laundries were abused through much of the 20th century. It made a similar recommendation for boys' institutions.

"In this kind of effort, whatever practical decision is necessary I hope and I assume will be taken," Tomasi said, without elaborating.