July 14th, 2010
04:14 PM ET

Vatican set to publish new rules on abuse

The Catholic Church on Thursday is expected to release its new rules to try to prevent clergy from abusing children, a source close to the Vatican told CNN.

The rules will be aimed more at firming up existing practices, said the source, who asked not to be named because the source was talking about the regulations before they are made public.

The Vatican will add the possession of child pornography to the list of most serious crimes, declare the abuse of any mentally retarded person to be as bad as the abuse of children, and double the statute of limitations on the Vatican's prosecution of suspected abuse.

The Vatican also plans to make it a major crime against the church to ordain a woman as a priest, the source said.

Some critics of the Catholic Church have said that having women in the hierarchy could have helped prevent clerical child abuse. It is not clear if the hardening of the Vatican's longstanding line against women priests is related to the accusation.

The new rules on child abuse are a response to accusations against priests across Europe and the United States in the past several years, and come not long, in Vatican terms, after the last set of such rules was issued in 2001.

Pope Benedict XVI was a key in drafting the 2001 rules, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The source said the new rules were designed primarily to set down in canon law what the church already practices.

They deal only with how the church handles allegations of misbehavior by clergy, the source said, explaining that it did not change existing Vatican policy of also reporting suspected child abuse to civil authorities.

Abuse victims are already saying the changes don't go far enough.

"There needs to be massive overhaul, not mere tweaking,of how the church
deals with abuse and cover-up," said Barbara Dorris, of the Survivors Network
of those Abused by Priests.

"As long as bishops can ignore and conceal child sex crimes without punishment, they'll keep ignoring and concealing child sex crimes," she said last week, responding to media reports about what the new guidelines would say.

"The focus needs to be on catching predators more quickly, involving secular law enforcement, and preventing recklessness and deceit by bishops, who can and should take many steps to protect the vulnerable long before the defrocking process begins," she said.

Thousands of people have come forward in the United States, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria and the pope's native Germany to say they were abused as children by Catholic clergy.

The crisis has particularly shocked deeply Catholic Ireland, where three government-backed investigations have uncovered physical and sexual abuse stretching back decades.

Police in Belgium recenty raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church there, and later spent 10 hours questioning the cardinal who used to head the Belgian Catholic Church.

The pope has repeatedly said the Vatican will seek justice for victims.

Last month he said the church must promise "to do everything possible" to ensure that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests "will never occur again."

Benedict said the church must "insistently beg forgiveness from God" and from victims for the sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests. He also said priests must be more thoroughly vetted before joining the ministry.

CNN's Hada Messia, Richard Allen Greene and the CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (421 Responses)
  1. Ladont

    Good news! Church attendance is down significantly. More than 80% of Catholic women of child-bearing age use birth control. Pope Benedict, the only people listening are the really good Catholics like Mel Gibson.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  2. Alek

    Jist of new rules –
    Don't get caught.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  3. Robert Woods

    This is amazing that in 2010 the Catholic Church still discriminates against women. They should move the Vatican to Afghanistan where women and girls are seen but not heard. I think its time someone sued the church for human rights violations as no matter how you look at this it still adds up to discrimination. Women have contributed much more to this world than the church ever has. As for the abuse I find it appalimg that they would even consider a statue of limitatations. If you abuse a child in any way you should be held responsible for your actions. No one is above the law. Like who died and made you God.
    Hamilton, Ontario

    July 15, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  4. SickOfIt

    Is this the same church that back in the day gained power by stealing peoples land and murdering them over it? (No I'm not crazy, look it up!) They lost any and ALL credibility then. These rules about woman not being ordained etc are MAN MADE, not from God. Wake up people. I believe in God, just not what man has decided he wants people to think God says or means. Religious people are the first to tell you that only God can judge, yet moments later are also the first to judge you.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:26 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Are they judging your soul or your actions? No one can judge whether or not you go to Heaven or to Hell; that judgment is for God alone. You cannot even judge your own soul! It is solely God's judgment to make. But we have to judge actions and words spoken to determine if they are right or wrong actions or words so as to know how we should act or speak.

      July 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  5. UU4Peace

    I fail to understand why priests who commit crimes are not prosecuted as regular citizens. Why are they afforded special protection?

    July 15, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  6. Noble9

    Does the Pope remind anyone else of that candy salesman from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

    July 15, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  7. David

    The Church is going to make ordaining a female priest a major crime, but theyre 'tweaking' the child abuse guidelines. That says it all. This organisation is an ugly, inbred anachronism.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:08 am |
  8. Petel2

    Who cares about this organizations rules, they never lived up to any of the rules before. Just more ridiculous deflections. We know they never punished the priests before. Why? Because most have something on one another. The Bishop in my Newww Yorkk diocese ssssooodddomized me. Maybe the rule is you have to be bad to be a good old boy bishop. They all knew who did it, yet they promoted. Guess if you promote the dirty, you build a good wall of silence- everyone has something on one another.
    Where is our US Justice department, or are there too many catholic ones?.

    July 15, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  9. hamza

    the pope is such a pedophile...oh my god...I cant believe those religious people and organizations...they are nuts

    July 15, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  10. whoever

    Wow and they call Islam a backwards relegion.

    July 15, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  11. cantbelievethiscrap

    Tridentine: You need to go back and look again at how many kids this organization has abused... way more than any school system. I have a new rule they could add.. How about turnig these people over to law inforcement instead of hiding them.. would be a great start. People get your head out of the sand.. stop giving them money.. when the money dries up they will listen. just like with organized crime you have to cut off the money. If you want to believe then its your freedom to do so but do it at home, or does god only come to those which go to the nice looking buildings? Parents if you have to send your children to an organization that abuses children then at least report any suspisions to the police and dont leave these predators alone with them.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:29 am |
  12. steve

    The unbelievable thing about all this is that anybody takes any religion seriously. It's all a lie to control fools. As for these filthy lying, murdering, thieving pr!cks and their latest attempt to whitewash their crimes, it will change nothing. People who are stupid enough to flock to these pigs and offer up their money and their children will still make that horrible mistake and the church will still abuse them, as they always have. Religion must be ignored and the "religious" ridiculed.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:26 am |
  13. SimpleReally

    Guys isn't this a rumour from an alleged "source close to the Vatican"?

    The Devil is always in the detail, so don't overreact until the new rules are released.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  14. misterMaker

    Given the Vatican's official stance on homosexuality, I hope these now rules do not say it is ok to play with little girls and not little boys.

    July 15, 2010 at 5:53 am |
  15. penpall

    Dear Papa, the Vatican should have a house of correction too...

    July 15, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  16. iham

    OK, correct me if I'm wrong and I may be as I'm not that good at that there math stuffs. While in High School I took college Calc 3, differential and discrete mathematics, linear algebra, topology. So I may be wrong in thinking multiplying Zero by 2 remains Zero.
    "and double the statute of limitations on the Vatican's prosecution of suspected abuse"

    July 15, 2010 at 4:10 am |
  17. FelGam4

    The Church is one of the largest nonprofit organizations and educators in the world. The good it does far outweighs the wrongdoings of some of its members. Relatives have been known to molest their children, whether they be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters etc. But that does not mean that every other father, mother, brother or sister is also a molester and damned are all members of a family unit. Similarly, if a clergy member is found to be a sexual abuser it does not mean that damned is the rest of the Church and its clergy. Mistakes were made; the Church and Pope have apologized, but it never seems to be enough. There is no appeasement for some, only subsequent requests after each apology or action to resolve issues of Church abuse, sexual or non. And to suggest that the Church has women as subordinate to men is irresponsible, for the Church does much for the woman's rights, for their safety, and for their wellbeing. The local battered women's shelter in my area is run with the help of the Sisters of Mercy -a Catholic organization. To hold against the Church its disciplines in matters regarding its clergy is irrelevant if one is not a member of the Church, for the matter does not concern them. Those who are Catholic and still have some reservations should consider studying their faith, that they may know the reasons to such disciplines. The anti-Catholic and anti-Catholic sympathizers will always exploit the wrongs in the Catholic Church; that is what they live to do. If one does not agree with a Church practice and just cannot surpass the disagreement, they are not forced to remain members of the Church. There are troubles in all aspects of life and the Church's life is no exception. Terrible crimes have been committed and amends should be made for them. But it is irresponsible to overlook the overwhelming goodness in something on account of its errors and wrongdoings. All fall short of perfection, and trying to reach perfection is an ongoing process in which shortcomings are always.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:59 am |
    • nachooooo libre

      STUPID ARGUEMENT ... its like saying great things in medicine were accomplished by hitlers experiements.... then again, if your gonna support the cathgolic church, you most likely support hitler like the popes did

      July 15, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  18. OneCommentOnly

    Wow, i don't know if you guys have noticed this, but he looks really evil in that photo.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  19. J Price

    The Catholic Church is irrelevant. It and all churches need to be taxed just like any business, because they are businesses.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:44 am |
  20. Annodumas

    Religion IS the problem.
    Every-time somebody comes along and tries to "correct" (Protestants,ETC)Christianity , they run into the same problems.
    Somebody telling you how to live or you'll "go to hell".
    God should be a personal thing , not a franchise.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:41 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.