A new policy guideline for Catholic bishops released this month states that it is “not necessarily” the duty of bishops to report accusations of clerical child abuse to the police.
Making it clear that the church considers it acceptable for bishops to turn a blind eye to pedophilia among their ranks, the policy guideline states that only the child victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.
Decades of depravity and scandals involving Catholic dioceses covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy clearly hasn’t made much of an impression on Pope Francis and the Vatican.
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The Guardian reports:
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.
The training guidelines were written by a controversial French monsignor and psychotherapist, Tony Anatrella, who serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Vatican released the guidelines – which are part of a broader training programme for newly named bishops – at a press conference earlier this month and is now seeking feedback.
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.
Indeed, a church official familiar with the commission on abuse said it was the committee’s position that reporting abuse to civil authorities was a “moral obligation, whether the civil law requires it or not”. The official said the committee would be involved in future training efforts.
The current guidelines written by Anatrella make only passing references to prevention policies. The French monsignor is best known for championing views on “gender theory”, the controversial belief that increasing acceptance of homosexuality in western countries is creating “serious problems” for children who are being exposed to “radical notions of sexual orientation”. He did not return a request for comment.
The guidelines reflect Anatrella’s views on homosexuality. They also downplay the seriousness of the Catholic church’s legacy of systemic child abuse, which some victims’ right groups say continues to be a problem today.
American Thinker reports:
It’s possible to read too much into these guidelines, but as a matter of public relations, it’s a disaster. If a bishop is made aware of a specific case involving clergy and the molestation of a child, urging the family to report the crime to police simply isn’t enough. That’s been the problem in the past – that the church basically looked away while predator priests were allowed to continue their attacks – usually in another parish. Pressure was placed on families by the church hierarchy to let the diocese handle the problem.
The guidelines suggest some sort of internal investigation before going to police. It appears that the Vatican is trying to strike some kind of balance between the rights of clergy not to be falsely accused and the rights of victims. On paper, that may be acceptable. But in practice, it still looks like a cover-up – especially given recent history.
The guidelines fly in the face of what Pope Francis has been trying to accomplish with the abuse scandals. It is likely they’ll be scrubbed and replaced by more stringent rules governing the reporting of clergy abuse to police.