The Vatican today responded to allegations that it had concealed years of clerical sex abuse by mandating for the first time that bishops and other high-ranking clerics should report such crimes to police if required by law. "Where the civil state creates an obligation to report, bishops are required to examine the law and determine what they have to do to obey it," says the Vatican's US attorney.
"Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed," Vatican guidelines now read. The Vatican has insisted that it has long been the Catholic Church's policy for bishops, like all Christians, to obey civil laws, but none of the core public Vatican documents to be applied in cases of abuse direct bishops to report cases to police; the guidelines are a first for the universal church. (Read more Vatican stories.)