Andrew Brown looks for clues in the pope's letter:

Much depends here on the meaning of "properly constituted tribunals", which are not glossed in the accompanying handout. But I think they must mean the secular courts as well as the religious ones. Support for this interpretation comes from a revealing interview earlier this week with the Vatican's chief prosecutor, Mgr Charles Scicluna, who worked under Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF.

Scicluna says clearly that in Anglo-Saxon countries and in France, bishops are now instructed to report priests to the secular authorities if they are become aware of a crime (outside the confessional). This is obviously something he thinks regrettable – it is like "a parent denouncing his or her own son" he says. But it's there. He also says that in other countries, where the law does not require them to report offences to the civil authorities, the bishops should encourage the victim to report them instead.

This is a clear and welcome change of policy.

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