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. petel2

    This pope and crew obstructed justice. Where is the US justice department?

    July 14, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  2. priyath

    Women are well respected in Catholicism than any other religion(As we consider Mother mary second only to GOD)
    Church in its evolution needed dedicated men to serve GOD, NOT FAMILY(That's a sacrifice we commoners respect them for)
    The church should not be blamed for faults of several preists.
    Only the CATHOLIC church has the GUTS to stand up for the evil acts happening in modern world

    July 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
    • Petel2

      Guts? RRaaapping children and then threatening a small child and then demanding the secret be kept is having guts? Good people do good works, including atheists.Get it right.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
    • Indignant

      Do you have kids, if you do pick one the Catholic Church with it's preist that want to play doctor with your kids, Or your kids choose one.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  3. chazmerk

    come on people the vatican has been keeping secrets or trying to for so manys years its not funny any more do you think a few lawyers are going to change what has been going on for centuries come people your smarter then that

    July 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
    • Petel2

      It is an oath they are required to take called "Mental Reservation". This oath specifically states that you must keep the secret if it may harm the church. If need be, deflect from the truth, lie. Enough documents from the vatican have confirmed they demanded silence with threats to victims and families.
      Where is the US justice department? Where are the angry Americans, we need your help?

      July 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
    • Indignant

      Nothing can save that Church its a done deal.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  4. Josh

    This church has done nothing but helped me save me from myself. I went to church until i made my first confirmation and then I quit going because I thought it was boring at the time and my parents didn't ever really go. So I ended up being a C&E(Christmas and Easter) Catholic and then when I was in middle school I was in some of the darkest times of my life. My Father was in a marriage where I could not stand my step mom and her daugher, I was depressed, and I was thinking of suicide. Even though it all seemed good on the outside( I was the funniest and one of the most populaur kids in my grade, I was a wreck on the inside) So I started going to church across the street from my house and after a few weeks I started feeling really better. Now I feel great and am entering college feeling like a million bucks. It was during this time that I decided I would enter the priesthood. I credit the church for overcoming my demons. A few years ago I hated life and now because of my faith I champion it.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  5. chazmerk

    oh benngy what about all the priests through out all these hundreds of years that have not been caught.a few my a??????ss

    July 14, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  6. chazmerk

    helives very good post.more people of this world should relize that religion of all sorts has been the reason for all if not most wars as early as man and religions have been on this earth nothing else but money ie greed and religion start all wars

    July 14, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • Indignant

      Your right, thats exactly what the bible says, Revelation 17-5 says that Babylon the Great meaning the world wide false religion empire, says that she's the mother of the disgustings things of the earth.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  7. ttt

    How about never, ever, ever.......ever....Always keep it in your pants. Make it about God and not money. The God I know isn't short of cash.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  8. Daniel

    What is appalling is not that "a few" hundreds of priests, ordained by the Church as special ministers of God's saving grace, have been raping children, but that the bureaucracy has, for as long as it has known this was a problem, for at LEAST fifty years, had made its sole priority protecting its priests from prosecution and its reputation from scandal. Ratzinger was a key player in the Church's culture of denial and cover-up. I would not be remotely surprised to learn that he personally acted to shield predatory clergymen from the law.

    This is a criminal organization, robbing the ignorant by lying to them and playing off of superstition and fear. It is fraud, and extortion, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Jail the crooks. Tax the Church.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  9. Saswat Blog

    Mark is right. At least he is religious and is proud of it. If he is saying women are secondary beings that need to be "compassionate", it is because the holy book says so. Those who disagree with him are either not christians, or do not follow christianity with sincerity.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      So because a book written by only men says that men are superior to women, you believe it? Wow, and I actually thought that the human race had evolved beyond men dragging women around by their hair.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  10. Benjamin

    My wife is a pharmacist. It is well known that sometimes people will drug addictions go into this profession. In a similar manner, some men who are predators will enter a profession that gives them access to children and adolescents. I agree with the Vatican that more stringent practices needs to be put in place to prevent these men from being ordained as priests and bishops.

    For all the irrational people making comments, they need to keep in mind that a very small percentage of priests have been accused of this immoral behavior. It is irrational and illogical to generalize the behavior of a few priests to the entire group . . . just as I will not say all black men will end up in prison or all lawyers are liars.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
    • helives

      @freethinkinghuman – Unfortunately our species has not evolved "beyond men dragging women around by their hair" because both the religious and irreligious do that today. Although I do understand the point you are trying to make here. But I for one know that God does not teach the superiority of sexes. The fact that it appears that way in churches, particularly the catholic church is only a failure in interpretation. A serious one at that.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • Petel2

      Benjaman, stop your deflections. There are many more than few. The John Jay report everyone has been using was commissioned by the US Bishops, paid for. Most the data came from the diocese. In my diocese, the bishop sssoooddomizzed me. He told John jay there were less than 15. The victims in my diocese claim there are almost 60, real data.
      Today, John Jay states that their report is grossly in error.
      Worse than the pedo are the pope, cardinals and bishops who denied children help to preserve their own reputation first, how disgusting.
      Because of the denial to these children, many victims committed suicide and others mentally ill. What a penalty to pay.
      How have the catholics helped the victims? They lobby to stop laws that would expose the pedos, the cover ups and deny victims again. In the process, they now harm all victims by stopping fair laws, no matter who abused them.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • Indignant

      Are you forreal? please use rational thought, a few preist this is a global problem with more victims coming forth with hundreds of pending cases.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  11. helives

    Its easy to understand why so many people are pessimistic about the church and religion in general. If we look at our world, its quite plain to see that many of the greatest atrocities from wars to crimes are committed or started by the "religious." It is a very unfortunate fact. But is that truly a reason to "hate" or blame religion, religion just happens to be one of the easiest things in this world to abuse. But should that really reflect on the reality of God's existence? Should the fact that man is incapable of adequately representing God, prevent us from placing our faith in Him? I think not. No matter what man (religious or otherwise) does, God will be God because that is indeed who He is.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Indignant

      You are who God is looking for, somebody that is not going to blame God. The real enemy is satan with his religous organizations world wide combined with political entities. Read Revelation chapter 17 God is going to use the Governments that religion relies on, to destroy her Revelation 17-17.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
    • Indignant

      You are who God is looking for, someone who is not going to blame him. The real enemy is satan no one mentions him. He controls the world's religions along with the governments that support religion. Revelation 17-5 calls it Babylon the Great and verse 17 says that he is going to use the governments to turn on her.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
    • helives

      @indignant – Yea friend, I am some what familiar with those verses. As you probably know things are only going to 'get worse' before they get better. From Babylon the Harlot, which I believe is already amongst us to the anti-christ himself. This world may not have as much time left as we think. Either way glory be God and His Christ, may His will be done.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  12. Indignant

    The bible dosn't mention not to marry, as a result of them twisting the scriptures, they think it's okay to have sex with a liitle boy, because he is not a woman. They actually are doing something that the bible condems homosexuality. Jesus didn't die for our sins so that hundreds of little boys and girls could get molested with homosexual acts. He died so that we could repent of our sins.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  13. Chris Freely

    The church has sacrificed these children for what? There is no forgiveness for what they have done. There could only be forgiveness for them (not what they have done) if they could feel the extent of their crime and what they have done and realized the horror of what they have sacrificed to attain symbolic power of people. I think most of them would drop dead if they had to feel that. I think the Pope should apologize to women everywhere for placing himself above them and telling them what they can and cannot be. Didn't all these priests come from the womb of a woman? Who has born the pain of bringing them into this world? Be grateful for the sacrifices of the women of this world, that they have born the pain that men have caused them. Bow to them and show respect. The truth is that God is not with this church because it has no conscience. It is sad, but true. The day of understanding is not far off and all the lies that have supported this crooked institution will crumble to nothing. I will be glad when we are free at last to remember God as She truly is.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  14. Camryn

    Mark I support your explanations I've read thus far. I'm a woman. I'm black and Catholic and PROUD of being both. Our church has been around 2000 years folks and aint going anywhere.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • Indignant

      Do you think that the catholic church can pay out hundreds of millons of dollars in lawsuits and still stand?

      July 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      My sympathies to all the parents of all the children raped or will be raped by the priests you have just empowered. Turning a blind eye to the evil crimes they are committing does nothing but send a message to the Vatican that their actions are OK. How can you sleep at night? Who cares how long the church as been around, it doesn't justify what the Vatican is doing. In fact, maybe 2000 yrs is too long, maybe it's time for the Catholic Church to disappear into the pages of history. Maybe it's time for the church members to stand up for what is morally just and civilized and force out the clergy hiding behind the Cloth.

      July 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  15. DN3

    I'm catholic and I'm not at all happy with the action being taken, or lack thereof. If they insist that woman aren't to be part of the clergy then they should at least make a policy like no priest is to be left alone with children and/or there should be second person (preferably a woman) in the room. Unfortunately, unless people come out and report crimes when it happens then it will be easy to cover them up. Parents nowadays should also be more vigilant, educate their children and establish relationships so that their children feel comfortable taking with them. Tough issue.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      I'm not Catholic, but if I were I would leave the church. How can any Catholic remain part of the church knowing that (1) these crimes are being committed, and (2) that the Vatican does everything they can to cover up and dismiss these crimes. It's a betrayal to everything that is moral and just in this world. Regardless of what you believe what the Vatican is doing is evil and unacceptable in civilized society. Yet people continue to support the Vatican by remaining members of the Catholic Church. BTW, I have no illusions that the Catholic Church is the only religion with this problem. I'm sure others have the same problem. Just another reason why I don't subscribe to "Organized Religion".

      July 14, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Indignant

    For everybody thats mad at the Catholic Church God is also. Revelation 17-5 talks about Babylon the great. The world wide empire of false religion. Revelation 17-17 says that God is going to use the world's governments to turn on her.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  17. Kevin

    "suring up existing practices" wow, that is reassuring.

    I love how they mix in the "no women" policy

    How does anyone still believe their morality comes from the church?

    July 14, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • EISH5

      A famous evangelist once said, "If I can get to them before they are 7, I will have them for life".

      July 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  18. Petel2

    "Mental reservation" is an oath taken by pope, bishops and cardinals which states you must keep the secret if it harms the church.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
    • FreeThinkingHuman

      So what happens under the Cloth, stays under the Cloth. Essentially the Vatican is saying that it's OK to commit these crimes so long as you don't talk about it. The Vatican gave itself a loophole to commit crimes against humanity. Turns my stomach.

      July 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Helpme

    New rules of abuse. Mmmm. Why is there a need for NEW rules. You molest children...no excuse!
    How does it that a priest who molests...is not covered by the same rules of society?

    July 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  20. EISH5

    The most glaring example of women being second rate in scripture can be seen in the 10th Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.” The wife is clearly an inventory item of property as are the slaves and farm animals.

    July 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
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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.