The Vatican has for the first time made it clear that bishops and other high-ranking clergy should report clerical sex abuse to police.
It has insisted that this has long been the Catholic Church's policy. But in a new guide for lay readers posted today on its website, it made public for the first time an explicit policy of reporting abuse to law-enforcement.
The guidelines read: "Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed."
The rest of the guidelines follow previously known and public procedures for handling canonical investigations and trials of suspected abuse.