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. BeCoolNow

    I think Priest is a gender specific word, and so is Nun. You don't hear about men insisting to be made Nuns. I am female, and a less than attending Catholic, so I am torn about a lot of this. I don't like to think that God won't hear me if I don't pray in a magic sequence. Maybe male and female roles in the church are just different. I do know many Nuns that could deliver beautiful sermons. Maybe their roles can be expanded? As for priests and nuns marrying: how can you run a church of several hundreds, be on call for sick, dying and in-crisis parishioners if you're also at soccer practice, in kiddie carpool, in the middle of a divorce, or any of the other myriad of things parents and spouses find themselves doing. That is the point of BEING CALLED to service. God becomes your spouse and your parishioners are your family. Good priests (and they do exist) have a lot on their plates. I don't really think that potentially adding extra parenting and spousal duties is a good idea.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:05 am |
  2. But wait...

    So very sad to view the state of the world today- It is true that there are evils in clergy members, in the laity, in leaders, in people we view as role models. While it is human to sin, does our "humanness" justify mistakes, bad decisions, and crimes? Certainly not. Shouldn't leaders, particularly those in positions of authority be held to a higher standard? They have greater responsibility that comes along with their power.

    The true Catholic beliefs are in humanity. In love- in peace, in service, in piety. Where do we see these values?? Where are our leaders?? It is all too apparent that some individuals do not have the interests of following Catholic doctorine and the basic teachings of the faith. While we see stories of many who fail and commit unthinkable acts against humanity and against love, it is the individual's decision and free-will to choose one act over another and does not coincide with the Church's teaching. While our priests and bishops have been unjustly "covered" for commiting these acts, it is the failings of other individuals (others within the hierarchy) to act with courage and strength to punish the offender.

    Yes, the Church has its struggles. It has some leaders who misuse their power to hurt other people in the most offensive ways. This devistation is an outrage against those who trust those certain men. The Church has laity that do not practice the faith, priests and deacons that stray from our basic foundations and principles, and those who have completely misconstrued the purpose of faith and religion. At the same time, the Church also has men and women who practice virtue. It is home to people who value piety, honesty, and sanctity for human life. And there are priests will withhold forgiveness of sins until the proper consequence has been administered and followed through by the offender.

    With any organization, particularly one of faith, failure to act in a manner that is consistent with the Church's belief system raises both eyebrows and anger, which it should. The Church does not need to become more "progressive." It needs to return to its values of morality, honor, purity, love of others, and service. If the Church would have faith in its founding prinicples and practice it with constant firmness, the good of the system would be undeniable to those who view it within and outside of Catholicism.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  3. Gordo

    New rules on abuse? I thought "Thou shalt not commit adultery" was pretty darn clear, especially after Jesus' interpretation.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:37 am |
  4. Peter Q. Wolfe

    The reason why women are not priest is because the original apostles were all men. Moreover, men cannot have children and women can have children. The occupation calling isn't for women to serve the Lord in such a condusive way such as priesthood. They are nuns, secretaries and other valuable members of the parish and outside of the church. The most important position intact is the center of all families being the mother in a constant marriage with a christian male fatherly figure like the catholics believe in. Catholics out of all the remaining christians hold steadfast to the nuclear family cause since the feminist revolution families have largely destroyed themselves for one reason or another.
    Corruption should be reported at any and all cost cause it shows that your local parish or diaces isn't working for the parishiners. It's quite simple actually and even in perfect world the future won't prevent all cases. I see the same type of information on opinions like coverups or bla keywords but with no articles. If you are to accuse someone start posting links with URLS with credietability or otherwise it's another opinion. Then, all forms of religion should be respected and have you ever thought the people are to blame not the religion? Pope's in the past have failed in their position and have surely condemmed themselves to the other place not to Heaven. They have a higher standard but it doesn't neglect their own responsability to guide the flock into Heaven. Priest are exactly the same as well and the apostles were humans meaning they sin. All humans sin on Earth not hard to tell and the entire organization isn't evil either. Look at many catholics that weren't as bad as you could say guilty of good and bad like John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Ronald Reagan (wikipedia under converts), Newt, Conan Obrien and Thomas Obrien, etc. Seriously geeralizations with leaps of inductive reason are worthless trash like you call religion of being cause you are hypocritics then for using the same logic.
    Finally, women are said the be of a different station in life than that of men. Look in Genesises with Adam Rib Bone to create Eve. She in turn was tempted by the talking serpant to eat from the Tree of Knowledge to break the vow to God. They then in turn with Adam's disobedience became thought proving and essential beings separating themselves from God willingly. They lost everlasting souls till their death and the further and further they got down the line till Noah the world became ever so. Then, the great flood for like fourty days and nights wiping out all people other than Noah, his wife and their three children. Go ahead and laugh about this but fact be told people for over two thousand years have believed this information to be true. People create excuses for wars like religion to gain a limited finate amount of natural resources for their own purposes like the crusades, enquisitions, New World Exploration, etc. This doesn't mean that those people including Pope's, ministers, bishops, nuns, monks, clerics, elders etc weren't all sinners luring us into their own lies for their own purposes. Infinant ignorance comes into play as to what you know or had the knowledge of gainign for your everlasting soul. I could also say that you secularist are commint to another God other than the true God, however, I don't have to resort to name calling or insults like the jews did to Jesus when he was killed either. We will all probably find out our differences aren't too different of God either to unite for the greater good of reforms and innovations for the benefit of all mankind. This include among many other things to be selfless and be humbled by your limitations to work in harmony for the defenseless and needful.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  5. Peter

    Do not persecute God's church.

    Matthew 12:30-32: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy. But the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

    Do not persecute God's church.

    Matthew 10:22 – "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved."

    Do not persecute God's church.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:32 am |
    • what

      The catholic church has never been nor will ever be Gods church. Everything you see in that church is man made.

      July 15, 2010 at 4:08 am |
    • what

      and that includes the priesthood, there is no line from the catholic priesthood to god,

      July 15, 2010 at 4:12 am |
    • nachooooo libre

      the catholic church isnt Gods church.... its mans church... God in name, man in action,

      July 15, 2010 at 7:19 am |
    • ted

      To those that are looking to find faith out there, it is not in a building, nor is with some guy they call the "pope". It is in the journey.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • Crysee

      cool story bro

      July 15, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  6. desert voice

    "Priests must be more thoroughly vetted before joining the ministry." I endorse this frully as a theologian. For declaring my desire to be holy, I was denied both priesthood and the religious life in the last four decades, in the U.S., in Poland, and in Italy. This is why I endorse what BenedictXVI has said about "vetting the priestly candidates." Is it enough? No. The canon law professores have penalized me for criticizing lacunae in the canon law, over again. What is to notice, and I write it for the good of the Church, is that we need to confront the patriarchal mentality in many priests, especially in countries like Poland! This mentality causes an incredible abuse in the confessional and in the life of the community. There are priests who refuse to meet with the faithful, except after moths of abusing them verbally! This abuse of adults is the prelude to the abuse of children! It is due to patriarchal mentality, and it must be stopped. A noble priest, does not abuse an adult just because he is poor or uneducated, or just because he is "opinionated"!

    July 15, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  7. chazmerk

    thanks pro still looking for the part in the bible were it talkes about child molestors

    July 15, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  8. Pro

    Though a Christian, I find Papacy and the edicts, like infallibility of the pope, celibacy for the priests and nuns have resulted in the current crisis in the Catholic Church. I find absolutely no references in the Bible to such foolish practices. It is time that Vatican and papacy are out of business. These edits remind me of the Islamic fatwas issued in Islam by imams and ayatollahs.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  9. Peter

    Matthew 10:22 – "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved."

    July 15, 2010 at 1:16 am |
  10. chazmerk

    pope paul john paul was faced with this also before benedict.it just was not made as public as know you can thank the press for that oh by the way we are all gods children be it animal or human dont go darwin on me

    July 15, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  11. chazmerk

    its not meant to be an insult to the church.but the truth is what it is .oh and im very religous god is in my heart every waking day.just not the catholic churches version

    July 15, 2010 at 1:04 am |
    • Peter

      But you sound an awful lot like the folks in the crowd who were calling for Jesus' crucifixion. This is no different. The church is the bride of Christ. Please don't persecute his church.

      July 15, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  12. scrumbugulus

    Possession of child porn will become "more serious" while a woman priest is a major crime?
    Wow. Just wow...

    July 15, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  13. Madman

    The new rules.
    Don't get caught.
    Pics or it didn't happen.
    No one talks about choir bois, much like fight club.
    If you do get caught, the church will bail you out, but make it discrete and quiet if possible.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  14. chazmerk

    he lives thanks for a great post one of the better one tonight really great thought.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  15. SimpleReally

    Wasn't this Pope sold to the world as intelligent?

    If the ordination of women is a crime against the church as alleged, what does that say of his intellect and the organisation he presides over?

    Why would women remain Catholics if that is the attitude from this organisation?

    And why would any man who loves & respects his mother, wife or daughters stay in this organisation, if it is a crime to ordain women as alleged?

    Of course this article is only what has been alleged by an insider so it could be wrong.

    I suspect it is a public relations test, so that when the woman thing isn't in there, non-thinking Catholics will breath a sigh of relief and think, "Well it could have been worse"...lol

    How much bad Karma is involved in manipulating the masses, if it is just a public relations test? Afterall, it is only from a source close to the Vatican...lol

    July 15, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  16. chazmerk

    also people please put down your bibles for alittle bit and read your history books about how when and why the catholic church was created ie heres a hint the old testament and masons the crusades isreal jews etc learn some thing.opps this was all before the mother mary surprise.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  17. chazmerk

    priyath you need to go back a lttle further in time before the mother mary with your history lesson about the church women were respected high priests were not trusted that much either read up on the masons etc please it was very barrbarack back then give me a break. roman and english wars all in the name of the church.not too much science to be read about hell they even tried to take of nostradamous head and he was no priest border line witch he was considered

    July 15, 2010 at 12:17 am |
  18. chazmerk

    no you cant foregive some thing thats been going on for a long time you are very nieve to blame it on a few bad souls the church has had this under wraps for or since rome times and before .pic up a history book some time good bye for real

    July 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  19. RUKiddingMe

    So the vatican says '...having child pornography will be a serious crime...'. This will probably be a real deterrent to the priests that are sexually abusing children. And since we are here, what level of crime does the vatican think that 'sexually abusing children is'?

    July 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  20. Reality Check

    What nonsense is being spewed here: Blanket condemnation and wild leaps of logic to condemn all religions is as pathetically simple minded as the extreme religious nuts who condemn science and everyone not a member of their particular religious affiliation. NEWS FLASH: Science and religion are not mutually exclusive! This has been settled by the main stream religions for centuries. And any scientist worth his salt will openly admit that science has virtually nothing to say (outside of opinions) with answering the metaphyicial questions about the Original, First Cause of Life and the Universe.

    July 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
    • helives

      @realitycheck – If this were a year ago or even a couple of months ago I would have breezed over your comment because I once saw religion and science as being completely exclusive just as most people do now. Needless to say that has changed very recently, although I never thought it would. I won't pretend to know your standing as far as where you place your faith, but God has recently been showing me that no matter what we as humans personally believe it will not affect the Truth of things, His Truth. I now see that God's Truth is not contingent on any religion and that His Truth can be found everywhere because His Truth is just as omnipresent as He is.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:17 am |
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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.