Vatican guide says ‘not necessarily’ bishop’s duty to report suspects to police despite Pope Francis’s vows to redress Catholic church’s legacy of child abuse.
The Catholic church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is ‘not necessarily’ their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
A document that spells out how senior clergy members ought to deal with allegations of abuse which was recently released by the Vatican emphasised that though they must be aware of local laws – bishops’ only duty was to address such allegations internally.
‘According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities – the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds’ the training document states.
Details of the Catholic church’s policy were first reported in a column by a veteran Vatican journalist John Allen, associate editor of the Catholic news site, Cruxnow.com.
Allen noted that a special commission created by Pope Francis – the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had appeared to play no role in the training programme even though it is supposed to be developing ‘best practices’ to prevent and deal with clerical abuse.