Bishops not obliged to report clerical child abuse, Vatican document says

The Vatican recently released guidelines, and are seeking feedback

Vatican, clerical child abuse, guidelines, bishops, reporting, Maeve Lewis, Tony Anatrella

A priest holds ashes during the Ash Wednesday mass, in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican | Image: Alessandra Tarantino / AP/Press Association Images

A Vatican document for new bishops states it is "not necessarily" their duty to report claims of clerical abuse.

The Vatican recently released the guidelines, and are seeking feedback on them.

It did state that clergy must be aware of laws in the area they minister.

"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 Guardian reports that the training guidelines were written by French monsignor and psychotherapist, Tony Anatrella.

He also serves as a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Maeve Lewis is the executive director of One in Four. She says she is deeply shocked by the news.

"Given the history of clerical abuse in this country, we all know the sort of culture that that can create - and the very dangerous position it leaves vulnerable children in", she told Newstalk Breakfast.

"An I'm sure it must be unbelievable as well to people like (Dublin) Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who has showed such leadership on this issue in this country" she added.