A 1997 letter "documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits" reports AP: <
blockquote>Signed by the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's diplomat to Ireland, the letter instructs Irish bishops that their new policy of making the reporting of suspected crimes mandatory "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature." Storero wrote that canon law - which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church - "must be meticulously followed." He warned that any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome.
Storero warned that bishops who followed the Irish child-protection policy and reported a priest's suspected crimes to police ran the risk of having their in-house punishments of the priest overturned by the Congregation for the Clergy. The 2009 Dublin Archdiocese report found that this actually happened in the case of Tony Walsh, one of Dublin's most notorious pedophiles, who used his role as an Elvis impersonator in a popular "All Priests Show" to get closer to kids. Walsh in 1993 was kicked out of the priesthood by a secret Dublin church court - but successfully appealed the punishment to a Vatican court, which reinstated him to the priesthood in 1994. He raped a boy in a pub restroom at his grandfather's funeral wake that year. Walsh since has received a series of prison sentences, most recently a 12-year term imposed last month. Investigators estimate he raped or molested more than 100 children.
Today, the Vatican's child-protection policies remain in legal limbo. The Vatican does advise bishops worldwide to report crimes to police - in a legally nonbinding lay guide on its Web site. This recourse is omitted from the official legal advice provided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and updated last summer. That powerful policymaking body continues to stress the secrecy of canon law. The central message of Storero's letter was reported secondhand in the 2009 Dublin Archdiocese report. The letter itself, marked "strictly confidential," has never been published before.Read it all.
Irish broadcaster RTE provided the letter to AP. An Irish bishop released the letter to RTE.
RTE's own report is here.