Pope Francis has made it mandatory for Roman Catholic Clergy to report cases of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups to the church.
In an apostolic letter, which is set to become church law, he makes clear that any sexual advance involving the use of power will now be considered abusive.
The clarification is being seen as a message to the church hierarchy that no one will be exempt from scrutiny.
The new apostolic letter makes clear that clerics should also follow state law and meet their obligations to report any abuse to “the competent civil authorities”.
The new guidelines were welcomed by some Vatican commentators who argued that they broke new ground in attempts to end church sexual abuse.
For the first time, clerics and other church officials will be obliged to disclose any allegations they may have heard. Previously, this had been left to each individual’s discretion.
Reports are expected to be made within 90 days to offices within church dioceses. The decree also defines the covering-up of abuse as a specific category.