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Updated: January 18, 2011 18:54 IST

Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report child abuse

AP
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Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady, left, hands out a letter from the pope to a child, at St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh, Northern Ireland, . Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops for
Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady, left, hands out a letter from the pope to a child, at St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh, Northern Ireland, . Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops for "grave errors of judgment" in handling clerical sex abuse and ordered a Vatican investigation into the Irish church to wipe out the scourge. File photo: AP.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s 1997 rejection of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify paedophile priests.

A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warns Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police because that would violate the church’s canon laws.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s 1997 rejection of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify paedophile priests.

In the letter, the Vatican’s diplomat in Ireland says a church panel in Rome, the Congregation for the Clergy, has decided that the new Irish policy of “mandatory” reporting of abuse claims conflicts with canon law.

The Vatican has not formally accepted any of the Irish church’s three major documents on child protection since 1996. All emphasize mandatory reporting of suspected offenses.

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