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. Dennis K. Biby

    "People who deny the existence of God are willfully ignorant."

    "God" is a figment of your imagination. That's OK but dont' push your "tooth fairy" on the rest of us.

    Dennis K. Biby

    July 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  2. ridiculous

    ridiculous all of this, every aspect is just plain ridiculous. ridiculous to think there a people who will support the church no matter what sins the church commits. everything is just peachy in the church, ridiculous. you had a good run but its coming to a close.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Jesus warned that the world would hate His Church……

      John 15:18-19. ”If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you”.

      The Catholic Church realizes that it is going to be scorned by the world; after all, the world crucified the One who instituted the Catholic Church and yet the Catholic Church has been the longest living institution to have existed on the face of the earth; by the grace of God it will remain until the end of time; why, because God promised it.

      The Catholic Church is not the sinner; it is the people who are the sinners. The Catholic Church is the Bride of Christ [and he only had ONE Bride] and She is without stain or wrinkle or any such thing. People need the Catholic Church which is like a hospital where the sinner can be healed. [If you are perfect you do not need the Savior or His Church]. People need grace from God to help them fight the good fight against evil and the Catholic Church dispenses the graces via Sacraments.

      The Catholic Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • ted

      When you talk about religion, you talk about man. when you talk about faith, you talk about the lord.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  3. gildagra

    a little less time spent praying. a little more time spent 'taking action' to prevent things like this.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
    • Christ Loves You

      I pray and take action! How about that?

      July 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • CJ

      To Christ Loves You:

      Then you only wasted half your time.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  4. Think

    People who deny the existence of God are willfully ignorant. The truth is available but they choose to ignore it or discredit it in any way they can. Just for a moment, those of you who deny that there is a God, think about this. You're in a room with God and the Devil. One of them wants you to believe in both of them. The other one wants you to believe that neither of them exists. Which is which?

    July 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
    • David

      Is this Frank Stockton meets Jean Paul-Sartre? I don't get it.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      No offense, but the question is pointless...for if you don't believe in God (or the Devil) then you would be in the room alone by yourself, talking to yourself.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • wilson

      The answer is, I believe in neither of them. I win!

      But okay... just for the sake of discussion, and at the risk of inciting more stupidity, I'll ask you to give me some examples that prove that your God exists. Go ahead... I'll wait here. This ought to be good!

      July 14, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
    • Pete

      What if you were in the room with the Tooth Fairy, see your argument is meaningless to me.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
    • Dismay

      Wilson, have you never heard of the "perfect island?" /s

      Look up Anselm's Ontological Argument for an amusing read.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
  5. Dom

    Dear freethinking human. You ask me to seek and find where religion comes from. I have. Religion is a result of god's manifestation of himself to humanity, and our attempt to give him rightful worship. To Abraham in the burning bush. To Moses. To the Prophets. To Israel. And finally, to all the world through Jesus Christ, his son. It is no mere human invention, but our feeble attempts to worship our creator and keep ourselves living according to his dictates.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • David

      a) Gos is absolutely an invention.
      b) Rightful worship? Not unless you're a sadomasochist.
      c) Live by his dictates? I don't have time to stone all of those people.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  6. George

    That's a smirk on the Popes face if I ever saw one.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  7. Christ Loves You

    Christ is looking, He is behind you Pope Benedict....and He is NOT happy! God Bless Christianity!

    July 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  8. Christ Loves You

    Christ is looking behing Pope Benedict....and He is NOT happy! God Bless Christianity!

    July 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • Dismay

      I hate to break it to you, but Christ is feeding the worms.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  9. George

    What a sanctimonius hypocrit. Until he (the Pope) exposes to the public all the pedophile criminals hiding behind the "cloth" that "they" (the church hierarchy) have protected over the last hundred years or more, then he is just as evil as the pedophiles.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
  10. Ruby Gumshoe

    Does not Christ say, in the New Testament, "Beware of false prophets...by their fruits you shall know them." It's beginning to look like the pope is the Evil Emperor.

    Ghandi said,"I like your Christ. I do not like Christians; Christians are so unlike Christ."

    July 14, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • George

      'Bout time someone else saw the connection.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • Daniel H

      Isn't there that list of Popes on which Benedict is the second to last one?

      July 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
  11. Daniel H

    What do they call it in Congress when someone tries to tack on an unrelated item to a bill? It seems like that is what the pope is trying to do here. The main thing is to go after pedos. At the same time they include the female priest thing. Now when moderate Catholics oppose these rules (assuming it's an all or none deal) they will be labeled as supporters of pedophile priests. Not a very sly move, at least to any American who knows anything about the way Congress works.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  12. Guster

    I'll pray for you.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
    • David

      Yes, that prayer thing has proven to be SO effective. Too bad doctors keep forcing us to give our kids medicine and such. And I know that prayer is going to stop that oil in its tracks.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  13. Dom

    And so he would condemn one billion innocent along with the few who have committed such a sin. And he would record it as justice no doubt. Glad you are not president with the power to nuke.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  14. Guster


    With all due respect, why do you care? If none of this means anything to you why bother ranting about it on a news forum? Your atheist faith is just as much a "faith" as Christianity. You seem not to mention folks like Stalin who murdered countless thousands. You can't explain how the universe came into existence and yet you tell Christians they live in the stone age. Hello pot, meet kettle.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • David

      I for one could quote all kinds of scientific theories about how the universe came into existence. I don't know for sure how it happened, but I am pretty certain it didn't involve a talking snake.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  15. Jeff B.

    Oh this is TOO funny.
    To ordain a woman, is a "major" crime...wonder what the punishment will be ?
    BUT – they're tightening up rules re pedophile priests – wonder what THAT punishment would be ?

    July 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  16. C Kay

    Not allowing women as priests is a clear message that leadership is exclusive to the Y chromosome. It is a horrible message for our children, especially our daughters.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • David

      It's our sons that are in trouble from these creeps.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • George

      I've heard stories for ages about the nuns – so keep a close eye on your daughters. Ya never know – do ya.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  17. Dom

    Life is not possible unless it is introduced. Trace history back far enough and you will reach the point of non-existence. That is the moment of creation. God is beyond our understanding, but not beyond belief. Something from nothing, that is life without God, that is truly delusional.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • David

      Something from nothing. That is quantum physics. And it is awesome. Even without the flowing beard.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  18. David

    The new rules also forbid the use of the iron maiden, as it is too messy, and instead recommends the rack as the best means of salvation.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  19. Paul A. Brennan

    The one and only rule for prevention of clergy abuse: read "Your Religion Is False".

    July 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  20. Dom

    Yes, so many of you are missing an actual manifestation of almighty god. He is truly present and we remember him each time we celebrate Mass. Why else would one want to participate in any religious practice? To "do this in rembrance of me" is the primary mission of the Church; thus he is never forgotten. It's perfect.

    July 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • David

      While I fully appreciate your idealism, there are definite merits in living in reality.

      July 14, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • ted

      What is "the church"? is it the pope? is it the members? is it the priest? is it the buildings? is it the religious practices? I can tell you that the church is not god because god will never dwell where evil lives.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:31 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.