Bishops warned not to report abuse
Dublin - 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.