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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. Sandra

    New rules aren't going to alter pedophiles behavior! This is like throwing a small bandaid on a shark bite.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  2. jet

    "the church must beg forgiveness"? The church is not molesting children, Priest are. And Bishops are concealing their unlawful acts.

    I have yet to see one humble Bishop/Cardinal/Pope rise to the top in this mess. The are all demonstrating that they serve themselves and not anyone else.

    Jesus suffered for us all. These so called consecrated men suffer for no one.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
    • Petel2

      This hierarchy spends parishioner dollars to pay lobbyist to stop laws that would expose pedos, expose the cover ups and deny victims.
      In the end ALL victims, no matter who abused them, lose.What a filthy organization.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • jet

      Sorry, your wrong. We haven't seen bribes used alter laws. We have seen heavy handed use of faith and the twisted interpretation of the doctrine of the faith used to scare people into silence.

      The money is providing a lavish lifestyle that is beyond the means of the average catholic. Housing, food, cars, clothing, travel, education, healthcare, retirement, recreation, gambling, booze, ... And the higher one a consecrated man moves up in the hierarchy the more he gets.

      How many of these men give up any of the material things in their lives for someone in need? Heck, they claim to be "fishers of men", but the "fish" have to swim through their church doors to be caught. You do no see priests walking door to door trying to share our faith, they consider beneath themselves.

      Look at any parish or diocesan paper, article after article about priests. Most priest come to believe that this world is all about them.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  3. Petel2

    With the pope, cardinals, bishops and those who attend their mass supporting this organization, A plea to god, from a victim, send them all to hell.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • Dom

      And this you would call justice. Nuke everyone. God's response to our sins? The death of his beloved son on the Cross. And that is what irritates so many; that our sins can and are forgiven.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  4. Dom

    So many say that god does not exist and "you can't prove it." But that is not true, for I have seen and heard for myself that he does. I was attending Mass with my sister, wife and children. Next to us were two women. During the elevation of the host, from out of the mouths of those two women came the most astounding sound I had ever heard. Their voices made trumpet sounds and pronounced these words at the same time: "You arrrrrreeee Lord!" Then, during the elevation of the chalice, they did the exact same thing. After Mass, I asked the others if they had heard them as I did. And they all said the same thing: "Yes, but they had not understood what was being spoken." I did not understand that I was given the gift of interpretation. But it is true. Jesus is Lord.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • Crysee

      Yep. That's proof alright.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Dom........Crud......and I missed an honest to god factual manifestation of jesus/god....?

      Can you get it to happen again....please....

      July 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • David

      So you were given the gift of interpretation. Delusions of grandeur, have we? That's the problem I have with religion. It always asks that you play the fool.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • EddyJ

      Believe what you want, but there are a whole lot like myself that don't believe in god and do believe the Church is just like any other corporation, corrupt and money hungry. I'd rather believe in my friends and family; people who actually exist and are there for me when I need help.
      If I were to suspend reality for a fraction of a second and believe god existed I somehow doubt he'd approve of the lot leading and preaching to his flock at the moment. That their lies, corruption, crimes and backward thinking has gone on unchanged for hundreds of years is proof enough that no supreme being such as god exists.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • Petel2

      Dom is delusional

      July 14, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      Dom, If your experiences and beliefs give you hope and a sense of contentment in your life – Great! However, I would ask you to look deep inside and ask yourself where the concept of religion came from. This is a purely human concept created to explain what could not be explained or understood. Does this mean that God (some other higher authority) does not exist, in my view, not necessarily. I often ask my self, If God does truly exist then why are there so many different religions and variations of religions? Again, the only reason I can come up with is that religion is a concept created by human beings for the purpose of controlling other human beings. Otherwise logic would suggest that there would only be one set of beliefs and that human beings would be "hard-wired" to those beliefs. It's OK to question your beliefs and your religious leaders. Just as we question our politics and political leaders.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • Steve

      That happened to me once too. It turns out I was sleep walking. Eventually I snapped out of it. I suggest you do the same.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  5. MK

    They need new rules about this?? Or any rules about this at all?? Don't those rules already exist?? Isn't it the Bible that they follow good enough??

    July 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  6. EddyJ

    What a joke. The Church is nothing but an old boys club that is so out of touch with reality and this just proves it. If they truly had a clue they'd willingly allow the proper authorities to haul these sick pedophiles away, insist on police investigation of reported abuse and not have views of women that date back to the 1800s.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  7. blondegeisha

    The pope looks like something from a Freddy Krueger movie.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  8. Sara

    There has got to be something wrong with the Holy water in Rome.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  9. sad commentary

    How tremendously sad- this is one more indication to me that the highest leadership in the Church is incredibly out of touch. Their most recent "announcement" further demonstrates not only an incredible lack of sensitivity to the numerous victims of their abuse but they lose further credibility by their apparent NEED to take this opportunity to emphasis that women have NO place in the church leadership. That they would consider presenting these two radically divergent issues as equally grievous (simultaneously) is beyond me (as a Catholic). Absolutely amazing how the hierarchy of the church believes that they can continue to push these dictates without realizing that they continue to lose credibility in the process. At what point do they become humble?

    Like many others who have posted here, and as a Catholic, I am seriously re-evaluating my involvement in the church. At the end of the day, I beginning to believe that the Church has strayed from the original intent of Christ...they seem overly focused on dictating dogma (ego) and less interested in cultivating the LIGHT of Christ!

    July 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Petel2

      More than that. There is know belief he abused children too. I'm hoping they disclose that and not hush it with money.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  10. Crysee

    Seriously people. Go finish high school. Then take some college classes. Now reread the Bible and apply everything you have ever learned in science class and apply it. And SHAZAM! Eye opening.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
    • Murrhardt

      Thank you, your post is like an angelic prophecy, too bad most of humanity is quick to judge and slow to learn.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  11. Crysee

    My comment to Christians and all other religions: Please stop teaching and believing outright lies. It makes you look profoundly stupid. Seriously. I can't even describe in words how much it amuses me that people ACTUALLY believe this stuff. I mean....really think about it. There is a big man that lives in the sky. Just that one sentence. Then he made the universe. Wow. Must I keep going? The world started out with two humans. Then they all bred with huge amounts of incest that is apparently 'okay'. Wow...really I must stop. Cheers!

    July 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • Peter

      You have a lot of anger and hate in your heart. No offense, but you seem like you have some problems socially as well. I am not saying these things to be mean, but maybe instead of trying to come on here and lash out you ought to do yourself a favor and build yourself up from the inside out. Happiness really needs to come from the inside, not the outside.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
    • Petel2

      100% correct Crysee. Nothing worse than an organization that demanded the child threatened to preserve their own reputation. Reasonable thinking people can see the depth of dishonesty in an organization and the brainwashing of parishioners. These parishioners donate money so the church can pay lobbyists to stop laws that would expose the pedos, the cover ups and deny victims.
      This religion is all about selfish-salvation.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • Crysee

      ya sure mate, I'll go to church......lol

      July 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • David

      The Gourd...No, the Shoe!

      July 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      There is a reason why human civilization(s) lost 1000 years of technology and scientific advancement after the fall of the Roman Empire. Organized religion serves one purpose, to keep the general population ignorant so that they are more easily controlled. We are in an age now where scientific and technological advancements are answering many of the questions that religions around the world were created to explain. I agree that as more questions are answered through scientific and technological advancement, the need for religion of any kind will diminish. Having said that, for many people religion serves as a source of hope and a sense of belonging. I am not against religion in general, just the current religious establishment of "Organized Religion" that tells me what I should or should not believe because of someone's interpretation of what is written in a book that has been translated and re-translated countless times over the last 1000+ years, all by committee. When will the religious establishment realize that we are not sheep, we are self thinking people who have a choice. The Catholic Church will never change their practices or their behavior so long as people continue to join and ultimately Pay into the establishment. People need to leave the church (i.e. stop paying the clergy) in order for the church to change their ways. The Vatican exists because of the money and power it is given by the members of the Catholic Church. Take that away, and the Vatican is just another Museum.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
    • WrongAgain

      @Peter_ "You have a lot of anger and hate in your heart. No offense, but you seem like you have some problems socially as well." Not only are you an expert on anger management but a proper social skills professional. Do yourself a favor and stand in front of an oncoming train. You'll get to finally meet your maker. MORON.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  12. Dan

    There is only one thing for them to do when they hear something about a child abuse case: Tell the police and let them handle it from there.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  13. P Winslow

    I think if a priest abuses a young person, boy or girl, they should be castrated.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • David

      Agreed. After all, the prohibition on marriage in the priesthood renders their naughty bits superfluous anyway.

      July 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  14. Dan

    It's difficult to show respect for an organization that molests children, covers up for child molesters, discriminates against women, takes money from their members by threatening them if they don't go to church a with mythical place called hell, and is based upon an idiotic doctrine about an invisible man creating the universe in a week a few thousand years ago, talking snakes, people made from ribs, etc. This is not the stone age. Wake up.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  15. Crysee

    LOL. OH PLEASE. I'm from Boston. I say it to people ALL the time. I'm even in a theology class. Good Times.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  16. OMG

    this news makes me want to get to a catholic church, reconvert back and give tons of money so i can get to heaven. if pedophilia doesn't keep catholics from staying in the church, i wonder what will...any suggestions?

    July 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  17. Dan

    I would say that to anyone that wants to discuss it.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  18. Crysee

    Awww! I really wanted to join!

    July 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  19. Dan

    What a peaceful world that would be without religion when we realize that all we have is each other.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  20. Peter

    Well, if you think that is a reasonable comment, then we have nothing more to discuss. Would you say that to someone in real life though? I doubt it. I think you save this kind of comment for when you are behind a computer screen.

    July 14, 2010 at 7:07 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.