Vatican issues letter on sex abuse guidelines

The Vatican has published a circular letter to bishops around the world saying that they should develop guidelines for preventing sex abuse by next May.

The letter also insisted that it was important to cooperate with police in reporting priests who abuse children, the Washington Post reports.

It also reinforces bishops’ authority in dealing with abuse cases. It says independent lay review boards that have been created in some countries to oversee the church’s child protection policies “cannot substitute” for bishops’ judgment and power.

In the letter, the Vatican told the bishops “it is important to cooperate” with civil law enforcement authorities and follow civil reporting requirements, though it doesn’t make such reporting mandatory. The Vatican has said such a binding rule would be problematic for priests working in countries with repressive regimes.

The letter told the bishops’ conferences to draft guidelines for preventing abuse and caring for victims and report them back to the Congregation by May 2012. It said bishops should be prepared to listen to victims, to create “safe environment” programs for minors and to better screen seminarians and ensure they receive proper training about celibacy and the damage done to victims of sex abuse.


Vatican tells bishops to report sex abuse but non-binding guidelines fall short of US norms (Washington Post)


Circular Letter to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clerics (Vatican Information Service)


Vatican publishes letter to Episcopal conferences on how to address sex abuse cases (Rome Reports/YouTube)