Any suspicion of the mistreatment of children by church officials will in future be reported to prosecutors immediately, according to new guidelines presented by Germany's Catholic bishops on Tuesday.
The Roman Catholic Church in Germany on Tuesday unveiled a new set of guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse within the church.
All future allegations of abuse at the hands of church officials are to be reported to state prosecutors, which was not the case under the previous policy. Rules have been extended to include not just clergy but all staff working for the church.
"The shocking revelations and experience of recent months has shown us that the guidelines of 2002 were not precise enough in every area", said Stephan Ackermann, the Bishop of Trier, at a press conference to present the new rules.
The German Bishops' Conference gave Ackermann the responsibility for re-drawing the guidelines in February, after allegations of mistreatment at an elite Jesuit school in Berlin. Further cases of mistreatment in Germany and across Europe have caused severe damage to the Catholic Church.
The new 55-point regulations are to replace 16-point guidelines from 2002, and take effect on Wednesday, September 1. They were approved by the bishops' permanent council at a meeting in Wuerzburg last week.
"It was important for us bishops to make sure that the new guidelines prevent cases of sexual abuse being covered up," Ackermann said in the western city of Trier.