The Vatican has clarified its stance regarding the duty of church leaders in reporting cases of child abuse. According to the Holy See, it is still the duty of the members of the Catholic Church to act upon instances such as these.
News about the Vatican's controversial views regarding child abuse cases emerged shortly after French Monsignor Tony Anatrella, who also serves as the consultant for the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, release a training document for newly appointed bishops.
In the document, Anatrella, who is also a psychotherapist, stated that it is not the responsibility of bishops to report incidents if child abuse or other related cases to the authorities even though they are in a country or state where reporting is required by law, The Guardian reported.
The contents of the document was immediately criticized by various organizations because it gives off the idea that the Vatican is telling its bishops to turn a blind eye to this type of crime. However, Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesperson for the Vatican, recently clarified the issue and said the document released by Anatrella is not part of the new training guidelines for bishops.
The monsignor also clarified his statements and said that the Catholic Church still has an important role in stopping child abuse. Specifically, the bishop will first coordinate with the victim and his or her family before reporting the incident to authorities, according to Christian Today.
"For the church, it is obvious that there must be cooperation between church tribunals and police and judicial authorities," he said during an interview with French news outlet iMedia. "I said in this paragraph that the bishops or his representative will first encourage the minor-victim and his or her family to file a complaint with the police."
"If they do not, then it is up to the church authority to make a report," he added.
Similarly, in a statement released by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established by Pope Francis in 2014, the organization noted that the Church must go beyond civil requirements when it comes to stopping child abuse. As members of the Church, priests and bishops have the ethical responsibility to protect minors from crimes by coordinating with authority figures regarding cases of suspected abuse.