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Published: Thursday, February 11, 2016 @ 2:57 AM
Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2016 @ 2:57 AM
A Vatican training manual tells newly appointed bishops they have no obligation to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse to authorities, according to multiple reports.
The instructions were part of a Vatican training manual outlining how senior clergy should respond to allegations of abuse.
“It's a legalistic take on a critical issue, one which has brought only trouble for the church and its leaders,” wrote Cruxnow.com Associate Editor John Allen. The Catholic news site was the first to report on the documents and criticized the church for failing to focus further on abuse prevention.
Instead, the church said the duty to report lies with the families of abuse victims. Clergy members are only obligated to investigate the allegations internally but encouraged the bishops to know the local legal requirements, The Independent reported.
"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 says, according to The Independent.
The guidelines were written by Tony Anatrella, a controversial monsignor and psychotherapist who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family, The Guardian reported.
“While acknowledging that 'the church has been particularly affected by sexual crimes committed against children,' the training guide emphasizes statistics that show the vast majority of sexual assault against children are committed within the family and by friends and neighbors, not other authority figures,” the newspaper reported.