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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. dwighthuth

    It is common sense on how to treat your fellow humans. Do not steal from them, Do not cheat with their mate on them. But if all these rules were followed do you know what we would have? A perfect planet where everyone was intelligent enough to know the difference gone would be dictators like the one in Iran Communism would not be around death and sorrow would be squashed like a bug under the wheel of an 18 wheeler. Pretty much there would not be any stories or news on t.v. except for the daily reports of science finding new discoveries on the planet as well as the colonies on New Mars showing that life existed at one time or another on the planet. Drama would be gone with all that remained being science and Im alright with that.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  2. Dan

    I agree with Crysee. Religion is very silly when you think about it. Use your brain, Peter.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  3. Peter

    Is it OK to call the Catholic Church a "child molester's club?" Can't you see how disrespectful that is to a religion that means the world to so many people?

    July 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      If the Vatican continues to ignore the moral values they pretend to uphold, and continues to support and protect the very animals and monsters that commit these crimes against innocent children. Then yes, it is absolutely OK to label the Catholic Church a "Child Molester's Club". The Catholic Church is led by cowards and self righteous old men who care less for their followers than they do for the rats scampering around under their city. I would go so far as to say that they are the very representation of the evil that they pretend to defend their followers from.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  4. Crysee

    It's disrespecting teaching religion to anyone! It is untrue. Complete lies and it makes people stupid! It's feeding false information to people who trust you to teach them helpful and true knowledge! Hopefully in the next 500 years this religion will die out just as many others have.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  5. Eatenhogg

    LOL "declare the abuse of any mentally retarded person to be as bad as the abuse of children"
    I guess the last great loophole is now closed.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  6. Peter

    Do you understand how disrespectful it is to some people to call Christianity a cult? Please stop being mean to people.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Daniel H

      Probably just as disrespectful as it is to people who are part of organizations known as cults because they don't have the numbers of followers everyone else has. Christianity has for so long marginalized everyone else that they are now feeling the blowback from that. It is right and justified if you ask me, Christianity is just the cult of Constantine.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  7. Peter

    My comment to Christians: Stop crying out for blood. You sound like the crowd calling out for Jesus' crucifixion. Get on the right side of this argument please, and fill your hearts with love.

    My comment to Non-Christians: Please stop trolling.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
    • Petel2

      You mean, catholics stop pouring vinegar in the wounds of victims. And stop lying and deceiving. Many victims committed suicide and others mentally ill today, we need this organization accountable by human rights organizations world wide.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
    • Enlightened

      So Peter, you have proven the point nicely...if you are not Christian, your ideas are not welcome...
      I am a woman.
      I do not need your protection or adoration.
      I am a better person because I know my own mind and find love an acceptance through God without the help of any other man or woman.
      I strive, at all costs, to protect children from harm.
      I welcome everyone's thoughts and opinions and, although they might not sway me to their way of thinking, I respect each and every one of them.
      I am agnositc.
      I respect you.
      I am proud of who I am without the acceptance of others.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • Amen (the Egyptian God)

      My comment to priests, bishops, pope: please stop raping children

      July 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
  8. Patti

    "...a major crime against the church to ordain a woman as a priest...". This organization really needs to be run out of business.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
    • Peter

      They are allowed to have their own rules, and I for one think it is a good one.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
    • Dan

      I for one think that is a terrible rule but expected from an organization like this one.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:12 pm |
    • Crysee

      @ Dan. Didn't you hear? Women are not equal to men! They can't have the same jobs! That's just silly. ;P

      July 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  9. guest

    "He also said priests must be more thoroughly vetted before joining the ministry."

    How do you vet for pedophilia? If they've never been reported or arrested before, it's not as if in the course of questioning they're going to admit to it. That's just ridiculous.
    Unless they mean interviewing every child who's ever come into contact with that priest, I think their confidence in such a process is nothing short of delusional.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  10. Peter

    I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian... and I will say that reading all of these negative comments against the Catholic Church make me kind of think that they are actually the true church. They really are persecuted in Jesus' name, and for that I admire them.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
    • David

      Well, if your logic is sound, then the atheists truly hold the keys to heaven. We don't get much love either, you know.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
    • Peter

      I have no problem with atheists, if the reason is truly that it seems the most reasonable and makes the most logical sense. Logic and reason are fine things. Many atheists seek out stories on CNN about anything religious, however, simply for the opportunity to troll. I doubt their reasons for this have anything to do with logic, and much more to do with personal immaturity.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Persecution applies only to the denouncing of someone UNJUSTLY. Example: Jesus was persecuted because He told the truth. He was completely innocent of any wrong doing and told no lies.

      You cannot justifiably compare the denouncing of the RCC, which has proven itself to be a house of ill repute, to the persecustion of Jesus. This type of comparison is outrageous and is perpetuated by the RCC and its propaganda.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • what

      The catholic church is not the correct church because all churches are not 100% correct. I do believe in God, but mankind has twisted things to his own liking. The catholic church is just center stage right now and people are taking a very close look right now, turning on the lights if you will and whats being seen is very very ugly. Wealth is the true motive for the church and membership is the vehicle to which it uses. Think of it as a international business with the pope as ceo. Yes the church does things like give food to the hungry but in the end, it just about the money. When you look at the picture above, the light is shinning very bright.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • what

      Take a close look at the picture and let me know if you see it also.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  11. of the cloth

    I think that all clergy should follow the example of Jesus, and wear just a homemade frock which would only cost three or four dollars for the material, instead of gowns and clothing which costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars

    July 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  12. of the cloth

    I have read all these comments, and now I want each of you to say ten 'our fathers' ten Hail Mary's and make a good act of contrition, and go forth and sin no more,...

    July 14, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
    • Crysee

      wow. that made my night. laughed out loud....oh...wait....you meant.... you are serious? ;P

      July 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  13. Petel2

    The world should arrest the pope for his worst crimes against humanity, the cover ups which denied children needed help. He instead protected the church and the pedos, leaving the children to suffer a life time. Many children later committed suicide and others mentally ill today because of this freak and the freaks before him.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  14. what

    i look at that picture and it gives me the willies. I am at a total loss of words about them. Talk about a group of people that break every commandment they swear by

    July 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  15. Cam

    Also, could they have gotten a better picture of the Pope looking like the scary pedophile down the street? I mean this one is great. You want some Candy little boy?

    July 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  16. Tony

    Nothing is going to change until they get rid of their ludicrous rules blocking their officials from engaging in relationships.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • David

      There is a well-known workaround. An Episcopalian minister who "converts" to Catholicism is allowed to keep his wife.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  17. Mark

    I don't see how making female priests a crime has anything to do with strengthening laws to prevent child molestation. I guess earmarks exist in religion as well as politics.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  18. Chaos

    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.

    How about having NO STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS and comparing ordaining a female is a major crime like child molestation?

    At this point, any catholic not OPENLY calling for mass resignation of the church leadership are protectors of child molesters. Thats not even an exagerration.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Petel2

      I agree, but if he did that – he would now have to acknowledge the destruction to human life caused by him and his pedo clergy.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  19. Mathius

    This is old news, this came out on Euronews over a week ago. Of course it is not enough per the anti-Catholic organization that does not support victims and only after money organization called SNAP, along with its members such as Barbara Dorris who is not Catholic and by her own admission and SNAPs own webpage that the rate of abuse is higher in the Episcopal Church. If they really cared about children, they would go after the public school system, where it has been reported by the AP and CNN that the rate of abuse is the highest. At least the church is doing something.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bonnie

      Please advise us of exactly which SNAP page and what article does it state that the abuse is predominant in the Episcopal church? I just went to the SNAP website and I see no such statement. The only statement I saw was a letter they sent to the Episcopal church commending them for being the first church to enforce policies to prevent child abuse.
      Please verify statements prior to posting them. We need facts.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  20. Meaty Portion

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

    I like how they tried to sneak that one in there.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • David

      It's almost like they're afraid that allowing women in the clergy would introduce a higher degree of oversight. After all, why jeopardize one's ability to get away with abuse.

      July 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
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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.