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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. jane

    If it had been you or I that had used this terminology we'd be had up for being 'Politically incorrect'

    July 14, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  2. Indignant

    How many children does it take before something is done about it

    July 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  3. skyflower

    "try to prevent clergy from abusing children"
    because god knows you can't get them to stop, you can only try.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
  4. btinc

    The one true catholic and apostolic church: marching its way to irrelevance. Agreed, too little, way too late. Gotta protect all that wealth.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  5. jane

    Does the Catholic Church honestly think making new rules is going to stop the perverts they employ as priests? I don't think so. Until the Church realises that they are not above all else and the law, they will continue to move their pervy priests around after they have committed a crime. Crimes against young boys will be kept under wraps as has been the case over the centuries. To bring it to the public attention is to admit the church is full of child molesters. New rules will NEVER WORK! Why will they not have female priests? Because the Church is afraid the public would be made more aware of their disgusting behavior by them. The Catholic Church should be closed down. All through history they have been nothing but trouble and so cruel.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  6. Mark C

    I don't really want to hear about priests "firming up" anything, to tell you the truth.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  7. growski

    The question is WHY is child molestation a problem in the Catholic Church, what is creating this problem? Its clearly not the solely the "people" because this abuse is being commited by many different people...

    July 14, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
    • Toby

      In response to your inquiry, I would think that having a flock of credulous and superstitious ramble ready to believe that a human man is in constant communication with the mind of the divine, can turn bread and water into human flesh and blood, and that a woman can conceive virgo intacto simply explains itself.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  8. Rehman

    This is the 21st century for god sake and Vatican is just making rules against child abuse?
    This is one of the reason I hate ALL religions

    July 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  9. Mickey

    Awesome News, Man!

    July 14, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  10. Scotious

    Isn't the head of the catholic church the main offender here?

    July 14, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • jane

      Totally agree!! They should all be checked out. Bet 99.99% of the priest have abused some one at some time of their life in the church.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
    • ted

      Yes, the pope is head of the catholic mafia. The picture of him in front of Jesus should wake everyone up. Catholic mind control in effect there. I believe in god but I do not believe in religion(man made). Many people do not like the Catholic church for many reasons, but it is the smallest reasons that are the most important.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • ted

      Does the pope think he is god, yes he does, but no he is not

      July 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  11. dougsheets

    I didn't realize that they had to set up rules for one another to keep themselves from abusing children. I am afraid that they are not enacting the rules for the right reason either, probably trying to keep lawsuits to a minimum rather than doing this for the best interest of children

    July 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  12. Robert

    We already have 10 rules to live by. We don't need any more until we get these right.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  13. Indignant

    test, my comment didn't post wonder why?

    July 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  14. jeepzeke

    I didn't think the rules were the problem. I thought it was enforcing the current rules.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  15. 007three

    centuries from now people will look back and wonder why the current and past generations believe in spirits and ghosts....God and the book written by jews claiming that a saviour came in the form of a man (as a jew) to save the people because of their sins....i wonder why the fields of psychology and psychiatry can diagnose nutjobs with brain diseases when they experience hallucinations both in auditory or visual form and when someone hides behind religion as an excuse, doctors stay mute. you must be an ignorant fool to believe that some invisible power or being that has yet to communicate its presence to society in modern times. pathetic.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  16. TheRationale

    These are the people that need 10 Commandments to know not to steal, murder, and lie. I'm not surprised that they need rules not to abuse children.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  17. Mike S. New Orleans

    The largest organized pedophila system in the world just added another fox to guard the henhouse.

    Pathetic.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  18. S. Brown

    Wait a minute.... They need RULES that say it's NOT ok to molest children? I would expect that under Catholic doctrine, it would be understood that child molestation is extremely sinful. The same principle seems to be at work here as the one by which a warning label on a bottle of bleach says "Do Not Drink."

    July 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
  19. rand

    The Catholic church is a cult. Just listen to adults talk about the things they learned as kids. One example. Unless you are Catholic you automatically go to hell. Many adults raised as Catholics were traumatized as kids and were told that they were going to go to hell if they didn't say their Hail Mary's 25 times a day. Some Catholics won't let their kids step foot in another church unless it's a Catholic one. A friend of mine has a daughter and her daughter's friend was Catholic. Instead of letting her attend their family church when visiting them, the parents of the Catholic girl made the Mom drive out of her way to a Catholic church every Sunday . It was a tremendous inconvenience. It was as if the girl would be infected by attending a non Catholic church. They are a bunch of religious snobs.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • George

      Kinda what what the Islamics believe... "Unless you are Islamic you automatically go to hell." Strange comparison.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  20. Jeremy

    I always thought a call into the ministry was a call from God....not man. The God I know can speak to women just as much as he can to men.

    July 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • George

      Some say God is a woman.

      July 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • ted

      The Catholic church has been and will always will be a man made church. The rules and practices are designed to protect that church far more then they are to help people. I believe in God but I also know the difference between faith of god and the garbage the Catholic church is giving out to people

      July 15, 2010 at 10:49 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.