Catholic bishops who suspect clerical child abuse need not report it to police. That's apparently the opinion of the Vatican, spelled out in a training document for newly appointed bishops. "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 document written by a French monsignor states, per the Guardian. Instead, it notes it's a bishop's duty to report the abuse internally, and let victims or their family members share the claims with police.
The document appears to have been created with no help from the special commission Pope Francis formed to develop "best practices" to prevent and address clerical abuse, reports Cruxnow.com. Indeed, a church official says the commission would likely take issue with the document since it views reporting abuse to civil authorities as a "moral obligation, whether the civil law requires it or not." An advocate for victims of clerical sexual abuse calls the document "unfathomable," per UPI. "It's infuriating, and dangerous that so many believe the myth that bishops are changing how they deal with abuse," a rep for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests adds.