Newly ordained Catholic bishops are now being told that they are not required to tell police about allegations of child sex abuse within the church.
The new guidelines were written by a man named Tony Anatrella, a French monsignor and psychotherapist whose views on “gender theory,” the belief that homosexuality is dangerous for children, allegedly taint the new guidelines, the Guardian reported.
Anatrella is a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Time reported. He gave a presentation outlining these recommendations recently, which are also made official in a training document for newly ordained 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,” his document states.
Instead, the reporting of child abuse to the authorities should be left to victims and families, and although bishops should be aware of the law, they are only obligated to handle child abuse allegations internally.
Victims’ groups have already spoken out, including Nicky Davis of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which believes clergy should be required by law to report suspected cases of child sex abuse, she told United Press International.
“Their systems function to protect the interests of the institution. They don’t put the protection of children first.”
Wayne Chamley, who’s with the victims’ advocate group Broken Rites, said he wasn’t surprised by the new document but called its contents “unfathomable.”
The Catholic Church’s new child sex abuse guidelines seem to run counter to the goals of Pope Francis, who recently vowed “zero tolerance” for the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy, saying “everything possible must be done to rid the church of the scourge of the sexual abuse.”
The Holy Father’s special Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, formed to develop protocols to cope with and prevent child sex about in the Catholic Church, was reportedly not involved in these new training guidelines. A church official told the Guardian that this group believes reporting child abuse to police is a “moral obligation,” whether it’s required by law or not.
The guidelines were released by the Vatican as part of a broader training program earlier this month. The Catholic Church is seeking feedback on their content, which was released to the public by a veteran Vatican journalist.
Anatrella’s policy downplays the Catholic Church’s legacy of systemic child abuse, although he acknowledges that “the church has been particularly affected by sexual crimes committed against children.” However, the training document doesn’t mention prevention and focuses on stats that suggest most sexual assaults suffered by children are inflicted by family, friends, and neighbors, not authority figures like clergy.
The monsignor is a proponent of “gender theory,” which contends that Western acceptance of homosexuality has caused “serious problems” for children exposed to “radical notions of sexual orientation.”
SNAP said the new guidelines are proof that the Catholic Church hasn’t changed when it comes to sex abuse.
“It’s infuriating, and dangerous, that so many believe the myth that bishops are changing how they deal with abuse and that so little attention is paid when evidence to the contrary – like (these guidelines) emerges.”
This course for bishops began in 2001; 30 percent of Catholic prelates take it. The course is conducted annually and organized by the Congregation for Bishops.
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