Vatican City: The Vatican said on Sunday it would not intervene in the case of a US bishop charged last week for failing to report a priest accused of taking lewd pictures of young children.
"There is a legal procedure under way. We have no intention of intervening in that procedure," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
"Any intervention could be interpreted as interference," he said.
Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri is the most senior Catholic official in the United States ever to face charges linked to child abuse.
In a statement, prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said on Friday that a grand jury had indicted the 58-year-old Finn and his Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph for failing to report the conduct of Father Shawn Ratigan.
Finn allegedly had reasonable cause to suspect that a child may have been subjected to abuse, after hundreds of photographs of children were found on Ratigan`s laptop in December last year.
Information about Ratigan was turned over to police by an official from the diocese on May 11, nearly five months after the clergyman was arrested and the laptop images uncovered, the prosecutor`s office said.
Finn denied any criminal wrongdoing, saying in a statement that he and his 134,000-member diocese have been cooperating fully with the authorities since Ratigan`s arrest.
"With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity," the bishop said.
Ratigan, 45, was indicted by a grand jury in August on 13 counts of producing, attempting to produce and possession of child pornography in a case involving children between the ages of two and 12.
Finn, who is affiliated with the conservative Opus Dei movement, has been a divisive figure in Kansas City, a mid-western city of nearly half a million people.