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. SayWhat

    It's pretty sad that they have to update their laws to include not molesting children...this is one thing that should be a given for any sane person. The fact that there is such widespread abuse indicates that this is such a broken system – Catholicism, its laws and what it stands for obviously isn't working! And then to make a law banning women from being ordained...truly pathetic. There is just no standing up for this religion anymore. I want the 15 years I spend in Catholic school back! What a scam!

    July 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  2. shawbrooke

    Someone thinks that having women in the priestly hierarchy could have prevented the abuse? I'm not a Catholic, but whoever said this needs to do a little research. I'd welcome a well done study. Anecdotally, several people from different denominations have mentioned that the female vote is prominent in refusals to take action when individuals are involved. I'd also point out that denominations with a more even hand between men and women, like most evangelicals, are growing. Those with only men priests, like Catholics, are holding their own. The denomination that is most run by women, the UCC, is on the fastest downward trend.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  3. elizac

    The more I study Christianity and the teachings of Jesus, the more frustrated and disgusted I get with the Catholic Church. It embodies all the rigid, rule-based, aristrocratic oppression that Jesus railed against – in his day regarding the various priestly orders of Judaism. Jesus didn't tell anyone that there should be a Pope who does all your thinking for you, that this Pope should live in a fancy palace and wear gold and jewels and expensive gowns, that the Pope's followers should also wear fancy stuff and live in wealthy surroundings. Jesus got mad at the Jewish priests for doing just that! If the heads of the Catholic Church were truly Christian – as in followers of the teachings of Jesus – they'd all live and act like Mother Teresa. Instead they live in their exclusive palaces, pass judgement on millions of people, and worry more about closing ranks and interpreting irrelevant man-made rules than about preventing their own minions from ruining the lives of countless young people. They are NOT followers of Jesus in my view. They are followers of some kind of selfish evil. Every time I see pictures of the Pope I just get angry!! (And yes, I am a Christian, a member of a smaller denomination that focuses on DOING good things).

    July 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Mark

      So its wrong that your Banker wears a suit and a tie? Who does he think he is better than Us?

      July 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Matthew 19:24, "And further I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." – Jesus Christ.
      1st Timothy 6:10, "For covetousness is the root of all evils, and some in their eagerness to get rich have strayed from the faith and have involved themselves in many troubles." I find it interesting that many priests have been eventually busted for stealing millions of dollars, and the churches don't even miss it until years later, most of the time. Too much money being fleeced from the "flock" for unrighteous purposes.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      It is right and just to build great Churches and Cathedrals in thankgiving and to glorify God; ALL is His and all that we do is to glorify God.

      Chapter 12
      Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
      They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
      Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
      Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
      "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?"
      He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
      So Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
      You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

      July 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  4. Mark

    Does anyone really believe the Catholic Church has any moral ground to speak on any issue at all. Read a novel called On This Rock by Dave Leonard, it’s a work of fiction but it raises a lot of interesting questions. Such as how did this Church really begin? They claim it was founded by St Peter but it’s clear Peter was never in Rome even once. There was a man who was in Rome founding a Church but it was not a Christian Church and his name wasn’t Peter. The book spins a good story but I found the historical evidence very interesting. One thing is sure, it is no Christian Church, it's all about power and nothing else.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
    • Sarah

      I think they are another version of the pharisees. Worried about being the authority, looking good in front of others, and being the one to call the shots. I really think that despite their claim to serve God, they fail miserably and serve only themselves.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  5. FreeThinkingHuman

    Last I checked this was the 21st Century. It's time for the Catholic Church to put aside it's self serving dogmatic practices. I don't understand how any catholic can sleep at night knowing that their religious leaders commit the very sins they pretend to preach against, and the abuses to moral values that they pretend to uphold . The Catholic church is nothing more than a hypocritical "men only" club. I mean honestly, would you take an anti-terrorism course taught by Osama bin Laden? It's time for Catholics around the world to look deep into what they believe and decide if their leaders believe in the same thing. If you believe in a higher authority in the universe then you may also believe that human beings have the gift of "free will". Use your free will to decide if you want to continue to support a so called religious organization that condones the abuse of children and the persecution of women.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  6. jstmyview

    Based on the "Vatican" actions, it’s ok to be gay as long as you are raping little boys. Otherwise it's unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

    For years the Vatican has been running its fingers thru piles of gold coins and just busting out laughing while their pedophile priests were abusing kids. They knew it and now that they got caught with their pants on da ground, it's all about damage control and protect the $$$$$$$$$$$. Any questions?

    Republican Conservatives are against abortion until their daughter comes home from school knocked up by someone of another race.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  7. Chip

    These sick priests need to be listed under the Megan's Law Criminal database...and since the Vatican is taking the law into their own hands and not punishing their own...I think we should do it for them and put these criminals under citizens arrest and haul their asses to jail ourselves. If this happened to someone I know and love, you better believe I'd be showing up for Sunday Mass...to hog tie the sicko and drag him off to the police station.

    These people are insane when they call ordaining a women priest a "major" crime but they turn a blind eye and then aid in the cover up of child abuse.... sickening. What's to stop a group of child molesters from getting together and creating a religion (they're all made up anyway, right?) and then just going to town without repercussion? Is there really a difference? Until we start hauling their asses away to jail and serve them a slice of reality they aren't going to change.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • nachooooo libre

      goto bishopaccountability dot org ....... 6-7000 convicted are listed there

      July 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  8. JimmyCricket

    Right wing, American Christians are among the most dumb people on earth. Delusional about a blood soaked, sword wielding Jesus in the "final days"

    Maybe the holy spirit can knock some sense into you, lol

    July 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • Bonnie

      The sword is the word of God; truth. Anyone who flagrantly rejects the truth will be dead in God's eyes. The physical death will only follow. Ephesians 6:17 in the Bible, "Also, accept the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, God's word."
      Revelation 19:15, "And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp, long sword, that he may strike the nations with it...."
      Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit......"

      July 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Bonnie....... And you're saying what...?

      July 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  9. Tom

    Religion would be funny if it wasn't so horribly disgusting.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Benny16

    been there done that

    July 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  11. giggles

    Please tell me that "aimed more at firming up existing practices" was just a poor use of words. meanwhile, the dopa-pope and his red skirted brethren with pointed hats continue to foist their delusions as better then the delusions of a 700 year old terror group. i wonder is it better for a child to be abused or killed under the guise of religious fervor?

    July 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  12. Over_Ed

    "Vatican set to publish new rules on abuse"

    Does that mean they're finally going to say its against the rules?

    July 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  13. nachooooo libre

    IN OTHER WORDS, NOTHING CHANGED ... "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"

    July 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  14. catholicgirl

    I couldn't get past the first paragraph- "new rules to try to prevent clergy from abusing children:. What about-its against the law, its against the laws of nature. Its common sense not to but then again common sense is not so common. They really need a set rules to tell them they shouldn't abuse children- DUH!!! Everyone else knows that. As a catholic this type of stupidity makes it harder to go to church every week. Practice what you preach!! Married men are allowed in some instances to become priest- are they any less holy then those who are not? Are decons any less holy?

    July 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Jesus was SENT by the Father and He said so He SENDS His Apostles with the same Authority that was given Him by the Father.

      At no time did Jesus appoint a woman to be a Father to us. Priests stand in Personna Christi-–that is in place of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a woman.

      God gave women the highest honors of Motherhood; His Mother being our perfect model. He so glorifies women! We have a marvelous place in life. Even Jesus listened to His Mother when He wasn't yet ready to start His ministry.....No, women are not lower but equal to men. Not all are Apostles, not all are Doctors, not all Farmers, not all Truck drivers, not all Artists, not all men, not all women......

      We are all members of One Body with Jesus Christ the head....are all ears, are all eyes, are all feet-–no! Why should an eye want to be an ear? They are equally important in the Body.

      God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him might have life everlasting. We are to help each other into eternal bliss, not be jealous of our neighbor.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • ted

      The truth of the matter is that, I myself believe a women can have any job a man can do, but for a women to take the catholic priesthood is an insult to women but if they want the job they should be able to have it.

      July 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  15. Steven P.

    CNN, are you moderating? What did I say? What did I say??

    Holy haddock...

    Try again...I don't think I said anything remotely in need of censoring.

    Oh...forget it. That auto-moderation thing is B$ CNN.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  16. Elizabeth Morin

    Love that ordaining a woman is now a major crime against the Church. I think that is what just pushed me over the edge and made me a protestant. Unbelieveable! So kiddie magazines and ordaining a woman are the same in the Church's eyes? Have fun answering to God when your day of reckoning comes around. She's probably furious.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • Remembering

      Well put and right on target.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  17. Brian

    If Christ came back today He would vomit at the sight of the Catholic Church. There is nothing Christian about the Catholic Church. All four of my grandparents were Irish Catholics and I could write a book about the sophistry and mendacity of the Catholic Church.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • TED


      July 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jim

      I've got the movie rights

      July 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Well, we can read Revelation Chapter 18 and find our exactly what God and His Son, Jesus, are going to do to the church.

      July 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  18. Jim

    I was raised in the Catholic Church. I walked away years ago when I realized the hypocrisy in the organization. My question is who has the right to impose their belief system on another? People seldom choose a belief on their own. Most are conditioned, even beaten, into them by others.

    Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and Temples have always served money and power over others through the use of fear rather than serving God as they claim to do. God doesn't need anything from us. God is not a person with all our ego driven flaws and insecurities. God is all that there is, both seen and unseen. God is within everything that has been or ever will be created.

    If there is an "Original Sin" it is the mistaken belief that God, or whatever you want to call "the force, eternal life or source of creation" is somehow sitting separate from us, somewhere out there in some place. No one needs to pay for any organized religion to connect with God for you. God doesn't have an ego, humans do.

    It's time for people to cut off the parasite businesses selling salvation and controlling you in exchange for your money in the basket. It is time to tax them all, preferably out of existence. Find God within yourself, within others and within all of creation. When you realize you are not separate from the whole your life will automatically change. You will not fear or hate diversity and in that there is love and personal salvation.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • PB

      Jim- RE the egocentricity of today's religions... I read a quote the other day that I think applies "You know you have created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do."

      July 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jim

      PB you are absolutely right. Man has created God in his own image. That is precisely the problem. God has been diminished to human status, hence the perceived belief in separation.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  19. stacy

    suck it pope

    July 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  20. Anthony Barry

    Just wondering what action is being taken by the Jewish authorities to put a stop to the huge amount of child abuse perpetrated by Rabbis – see rabbiwatch.com for a list of just a few of the cases actually exposed. There will be many more cases where victims will be too ashamed or too afraid to speak out.

    As wondering says above, this sickness of peadophilia is a sickness found widely in human societies – be they Catholic or Protestant, Judaic or Moslem. I am not defending abusive priests or the bishops who failed to put a stop to their activities – they should be brought to justice obviously, but it seems to me that the media doesnt really care at all about the suffering of abuse victims, they are using victims of child abuse as a weapon against the Catholic church as a whole, and this too is disgusting, Do the media ever consider all those decent clergy & members of religious orders who have dedicated their lives to their parishes & to serving others & who are now being subjected to harassment & attack because of something they are not responsible for ?

    July 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • nachooooo libre

      pathetic diversion of the 8000 priest that have been convicted ...and the 3 billion the church has paid out in out of court settlements

      July 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • Eric G

      Their are two reasons to come at the church on this topic. First, they knowingly harbored pedophiles and used "out of court" hush money to cover it up. Second, their god does not exist, they know this, and that makes them liars and theives and pedophiles.

      July 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • BeCoolNow

      Oh, but you forget, its not currently COOL to pick on anyone but Catholics and Muslims. You are expecting waaay to much of people.

      July 15, 2010 at 1:54 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.