July 15th, 2010
07:38 AM ET

U.N. official slams church on scandal; Vatican revises abuse guidelines

The Catholic Church must not sweep abuse by priests "under the carpet," a top U.N. official said Thursday in unprecedented criticism by the United Nations of how the Vatican has handled the crisis.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was "not at all" happy with how the Catholic Church has handled allegations of child abuse by clergy.

"There are children who are now coming forward on this issue and they are still hurting. They need to see justice being done," she said on CNN's "Connect the World" program.

She was speaking the same day the Catholic Church announced rules aimed at stopping the abuse of children by priests, but her comments were not in direct response to the new rules.

"I would call for an investigation, and a revamping of the rules, and not to ignore that this is taking place on a large scale," she said. The Vatican says only a tiny minority of clergy have molested children.

Other child-safety campaigners also criticized the Vatican Thursday.

"The pope had a chance to do something really decisive that would affect the situation worldwide," said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.

Instead, she said, the Vatican issued rules that are the equivalent of "bringing a child's sand shovel to an avalanche."

The new regulations give the pope the authority to defrock a priest or to hand out other punishments without a formal Vatican trial.

They make it a crime for a priest to download child pornography. The rules also say the abuse of mentally handicapped people is as bad as child abuse. And they double the statute of limitations on church prosecution of suspected molesters from 10 to 20 years.

Separately, they also declare it to be a "sin against the sacraments" to ordain a woman as a priest.

Doyle said she wants the Vatican to do much more, including ending "secretive tribunals" of priests accused of abuse.

"The church must release lists of credibly accused priests," she said.

Naming suspected abusers "serves a public safety function," she said, and is "not only reasonable, it's absolutely crucial."

It would help victims to have abusive priests named even if they are dead, she said.

"I know a family that was utterly destroyed by the abuse of four siblings" who were all molested by the same priest, she said.

"It tore apart a devout Catholic family. Some of them are not speaking to each other," she said. "It would be of enormous help to them for the bishops just to say, 'We know there are allegations against him.'"

Barbara Dorris, who campaigns on behalf of abuse victims, said punishing abusive priests would not solve the problem.

"Defrocking a predator, by definition, is too late. Severe harm has already been done. So the focus must be on the front end, not the back end, of the crisis," said Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

And a former priest who now helps victims to sue the church said there is nothing new in the regulations issued Thursday.

"There is no change in form from what Pope Pius V said in 1568, [or] Pope Benedict XIV said in 1741," said Patrick Wall, who was trained in church law by the man who is now the Vatican's chief prosecutor of priests accused of abuse.

He said what matters is what the pope does, not what the rules say.

"Authority to act, as it always has, remains with the pope or his delegates," Wall said. "The entire system is dependent on the action of the pope alone ... acting to protect children first and the institution second."

The man who trained Wall in church law is Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who helped write the new rules.

He too said it was the implementation that mattered most.

"A document is always a document. It does not solve all the problems," he said. "It is a very important instrument, but then it is the way you use the instrument that is going to have the real effect on the life of the church."

The new rules come in response to thousands of recent allegations of child abuse by priests in the United States, Europe and Latin America.

They deal only with how the church itself handles allegations of abuse, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.

Church law already orders Catholic clergy to comply with the civil law of the country they live in if they suspect child abuse is taking place, he said.

CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen said the long-awaited new guidelines make "relatively minor" changes.

"They take what is already existing practice and make it church law," he said.

He doubted they would satisfy the Vatican's critics.

"The story here is a kind of disconnect between the Vatican, which seems to think that business as usual is enough, and the rest of the world, who are waiting for a dramatic symbol of change," he said.

"These revisions will likely come across to critics as the Vatican rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."

CNN's Hada Messia and Pamela Sellers contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. stevie68a

    The bible is a comic book. What was written by shepherds hundreds of years ago, who knew nothing of science and little of
    human nature, needs to be dismissed as outdated folklore. Teach children ethics...and common sense. We cannot evolve as
    a people using imaginary gods such as jesus. It is time for humans to grow up.

    August 10, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  2. verify

    I guess I just have a dirty mind, but I think that the choice of words from the above article is... well... funny.

    "Severe harm has already been done. So the focus must be on the front end, not the back end, of the crisis," said Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests."

    Not to denigrate the cause in the least, just a funny parallel.

    July 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  3. verify

    Yes, Eric G, there are many errors in logic in that post. Thanks for taking the time to describe the first one... after which, none others may progress (although, some of them are stand-alone errors).

    July 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • truthinthebible

      I too beleive in the Big Bang i.e. when Jesus RETURS.

      July 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  4. truthinthebible

    Either there is God or there isn't

    If there is no God, then we can from apes,
    that means we came from a rock, we go far enough ...
    which came from the BIG Bang...

    but where did the big Bang came from.. (NO ANSWER.. DEAD END)..

    that Leaves only one possibility.. GOD.

    But, now there are millions of GOD we human have created, and
    there must be one GOD, who is the uncreated one,
    who is the ALPHA and the OMEGA. (no beginning ... , no end..)


    GOD, has left us with a million choices !!!!. I don't think so.

    If there is GOD, he will not expect any one in this world to blindly beleive in him, (him without showing up, as we beleive only what we see)..

    But looking at the creation itself, one must be convinced that there is GOD.

    Also, if there is GOD, then he must know the future.
    Only the GOD of the BIBLE has made us known the future (through prophets) with 100% Authority and 100% Accuracy.

    If anyone understands, the DANIEL prophecy, and how accurately GOD has predicted it, he will be convinced the he is the true GOD.

    The GOD of the BIBLE is "Jesus".

    Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
    Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
    Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
    Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

    Thats awesome !!!

    July 17, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Eric G

      Your logic is flawed. You are making an argument from assumption. If you can disprove the big bang, (which you cannot) that does not prove that your god did it. Big Bang theory and Creationist theory are two separate ideas. Both ideas must be evaluated based on evidence that can be tested, repeated and verified. In the future, you will need to decide which you would like to do, disprove Big Bang/Evolution theory or prove Creationist theory. Pick one and gather evidence to support your argument. I would recomend gathering evidence to prove creation, because we already have evidence to prove the Big Bang and evolution. If you can provide evidence for creation that can withstand the skepticism and scrutiny that scientific evidence is subjected to, you will really be on to something. Good luck on your quest!

      July 18, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  5. HeIsGod

    Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and Life. It is only through Him that men can be saved, not through any religion.

    July 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
  6. EshaHomme

    I feel that anyone that wants to be SAVED SHOULD TRY ANSWERING their doors when Jehovah's Witnesses come. Matthew 24:14. We are at the end of this system of things and the Holy Bible says that we know when the Great Tribulation starts when the UN steps in as far as false religion is concerned. We don't see too much in the news about Jehovah's Witnesses now do we? It is soley up to you as individuals. Prophecies are being foretold. Matt. 24 Mark 13, Luke 21.

    July 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Good evening, EshaHomme. Well, I have just started to blog the news this year and I don't know if there has ever been any news about them. Answer the door to a Jehovah's Witnesses will not guarantee salvation. Opening the door of our heart to Jesus Christ will give us salvation. Men can not save anyone. I agree that religion has deceived many, has lied, kill, and destroy, both physically and spiritually. Our salvation is and should only be a personal relationship with Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses are among other religions as well. I have talked to a few of them throughout my life time and I end up ministering to them and they don't believe in the Holy Spirit, heaven or hell and don't believe the return of Jesus Christ. They go to our Father, Jehovah, without the name of Jesus Christ. So, what hope can they give those that are lost?

      July 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      I do open my door to JW. They come in but do not want me to get my Bible. They only want to point out a verse here or there in theirs, and want me to answer ‘yes or no’ and offer nothing else.

      They do not want to hear that their religion was started by a man who was born around 1890 and made predictions that did not come true on the dates that he set. He started his own bible. You can check it out on the internet.

      JW are not Christians because they do not believe in the Trinity or other Truths that Christians hold as Truths.

      July 23, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  7. HeIsGod


    @truthinthebible......... bible is a book....... what is written in said book is not fact.... making claims of your beliefs and acting if they are facts is dishonesty on so many levels.
    My god right one..... any other god/religion wrong one....
    Remember.... your beliefs 'do not' = FACTS...
    Please don't act as if they are.....

    @ peace2all – The books that all Atheists that write are just a book but many are willing to read it and believe in it, why not believe in the Bible, which the greatest book of them all?

    Also, this Book was written by men that saw God, spoke with God in the O.T. Also in the N.T., Jesus Disciples saw God, walked, talked, traveled, saw miracles, and learned from Jesus Christ’s teachings…..how can you or anyone disprove what these men experienced? These lying Atheist authors can’t prove what they think, say and/or believe without ever experiencing the gift of salvation that God has given us through His Son, Jesus Christ!

    July 16, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  8. HeIsGod


    You must be sitting on "proper evidence" disproving our Heavenly Father....give it up. Show us life instead of the hate in your Heart.


    VERY WELL SAID!!!! All of these Atheists, Agnostics, and unbelievers must really have the proper evidence to disprove our Heavenly Father! LOL, best comment here today!!

    God bless you!

    July 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm |
  9. HeIsGod

    @ peace2all – Hi! Hope you are doing well! : – )

    Listen, I have been reading your comment back and forth with CatholicMom and I just want to let you know that it isn't our job to convince you or prove to you what we know. You can't convince us on what you believe, right? You believe that there is no God and that the Word of God isn't real, right? Well, what proof do you have to convince us that what you are saying is truth?

    If we live all through our lives knowing and believing that God is more Real than you and I are, and we realize that Atheist/Agnostics and unbelievers were right all this time, guess what, peace2all, we lose absolutely NOTHING. But, when you they these people die and realize that what we have been proclaiming and preaching was true and you open up your eyes after you die, it will be too LATE! You will know than that God is more Real than you and I are and Jesus Christ can not bring out from h*ll, not matter how Powerful He is. He has already spoken on His Word about heaven and hell and He said that He is not a man that He should lie, neither the Son of man that He shall repent. He is faithful to His Word and when He sends out His Word, He sends it out with righteous and justice and it shall not return to Him VOIDED.

    July 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Correction for peace2all:

      "Well, what proof do you have to convince us that what you are saying isn't truth?"

      Also, there is a spirit within each and everyone of us. Can you see the spirit of others? No you can't, so how can you prove there is one? God is Spirit and He breathed His Spirit within us.

      July 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      What I am concerned about for the atheists and agnostics is that Jesus SENT the Apostles out into the world commanding that they Baptize and teach all nations so that all may come to believe in Him and do the will of the Father out of love of Him.

      Once the atheists and agnostics have heard the Truth but reject it, their soul could be in jeopardy. We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, have the commission along with the Apostles to speak the Truth to those we encounter throughout life, but to really HEAR the Word they need to hear it from someone who is SENT.

      What we can do is explain the Truth the best we can and hope that we get it exactly right so as to not cause anyone to reject the Truth, and hopefully it will spark their interest enough that they will pursue the Truth and come to hear it from one who is SENT.

      July 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      @ CatholicMom – AMEN!! Well said! Even if God would allow us to show them proof, they will still be stiff-neck, stubborn and still, they would not believe, therefore, they are without excuse!

      July 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  10. CatholicMom

    p-2–ll, please, you are twisting what I said.....here it is again....I believe because I know.

    July 16, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • HeIsGod


      "Well, what proof do you have to convince us that what you are saying isn't truth?"

      Also, there is a spirit within each and everyone of us. Can you see the spirit of others? No you can't, so how can you prove there is one? God is Spirit and He breathed His Spirit within us.

      July 16, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      I apologize, I posted to the wrong comment!

      It is for peace2all.

      July 16, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  11. CatholicMom

    v-fy and p--2-ll, I can't seem to post. They won't let me answer either of you.

    July 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  12. CatholicMom

    Eric G,
    My answer is was not posted in the correct place so I will just repeat it here...
    I believe because I know.

    July 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
    • peace2all

      @CatholicMom..... Hi again.....

      O.K.....So we are back to belief=knowing regarding the issue of god, etc...

      How can you possibly know just because you believe.....? Obviously, many would take issue that you think believing in the big guy= actual/factual knowledge....

      Still not a sound convincing arguement......

      I am still open to see what you have to say....you never know... you may convert someone..:-)


      July 16, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  13. Eric G

    Does it matter to you if your god really exists or not?

    July 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Nothing else matters. Without God nothing would exist. NOTHING!

      July 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • Eric G

      @CatholicMom: Are you saying that knowing that your god exists is more important than believing that he exists?

      July 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      @ Eric G – Good evening, hope that all is well with you!

      Of course it's very important that we know that God exists. He is our Creator; He wants us to know Him. Why wouldn't He want us to know of His existence? It's like birthing a child, the child would like to know who is his/her mother and father, of course, unless they are adopted and his adopted parents don't want them to know them.

      Well, it’s the same with us. Satan is the father of all sin, lies and the father of all those that don't believe in God. God says that if we are not for Him, we are against Him. We are His enemies and also b@stards! Through His Son, we who believe have been adopted into the Royal Family of His Son, Jesus Christ.

      July 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Every person is a child of God--none are the child of of satan--where did you get that? No one belongs to satan until judgment day and if God judges their soul so. Don’t award anyone’s soul to satan; that is God’s judgment to make. Where is your faith, hope, and charity?

      July 23, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  14. Mike

    As Paul says there are still 500 witnesses to the resurrection.

    July 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • verify

      Paul can 'say' anything. It's a shame that he didn't bother to name them... or to interview them (since they were supposedly still alive when he wrote).

      July 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Even if Paul named them you wouldn’t believe the names-you would come up with something like ‘he made them up’ or ‘they didn’t have names like that back then’ so you see, you have so little faith when it comes to the Bible. So where do you find Truth? Everyone wants it…surely you do, too.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • verify

      CM: "Even if Paul named them you wouldn’t believe the names..." Perhaps. But if a "God" is omniscient, it would know that, and would provide proper evidence.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • Guest


      You must be sitting on "proper evidence" disproving our Heavenly Father....give it up. Show us life instead of the hate in your Heart.

      July 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • verify

      Guest: Proper evidence FOR would be fine too (and you can keep your hate, thank you).

      July 16, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Guest..... You are making an inappropriate unfounded assumption on @verify's postings that there is 'hate' in his or her heart..

      Not a good way to try and make any point.


      July 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Eric G,
      I believe because I know.

      July 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
    • Guest

      Which is it, are you For or Against our Creator? You see the life around you, don't you? Or are you saying you can create life? Can you forgive me, I'm having difficulty under standing your meaning of "proper evidence"

      July 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • verify

      Guest: We simply do not know how all that we see/experience came about. It is not necessary that we are the conscious creation of any being - we could be the product of a sneeze or something! We do not know how or what other dimensions might be.

      July 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Guest

      Verify- I will not throw God's gift back at Him,

      July 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Mike..... And here you circle back around asserting no evidence. Just more of same bible verses...

      When you can gather enough evidence and put it out there and it can withstand the rigorous scrutiny of the scientific method,

      Then...let's talk again....


      July 19, 2010 at 1:55 am |
  15. truthinthebible

    Daniel prophecy fulfilled as written in the BIBLE. Only God can know the future. This proves the GOD of the BIBLE is the only true GOD.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:54 am |
    • peace2all

      @truthinthebible......... bible is a book....... what is written in said book is not fact.... making claims of your beliefs and acting if they are facts is dishonesty on so many levels.

      My god right one..... any other god/religion wrong one....

      Remember.... your beliefs 'do not' = FACTS...

      Please don't act as if they are.....

      July 16, 2010 at 5:04 am |
    • CatholicMom


      There are those who refute the Bible with their words. But that is all they have to refute with…their own words. The Bible has Truth on its side!.

      Many are leaving ‘religion’ and calling themselves ‘spiritual’ instead or ‘nothing’. For some who wish to take along some of their past religion will say their ‘spirituality’ is ‘Me, my Bible, and God’; others say, ‘Me and the Universe’; still for others, it is ‘Me, Me, and Nothing.’

      For the group that is ‘Me, my Bible, and God’…this is actually….Me, some Scripture but not all, and God as I think of Him whether it is Truth or not; the ‘Me and the Universe’ group is ‘Me with my god-like power and my ability to converse with All Things; and the ‘Me, Me, Nothing’ group is all about themselves and they have killed their conscience as far as how they relate to God.

      To be Catholic…it is ‘Me and the Bible with no Books thrown out or words changed, added, or left out], and the Church along with the living/teaching office of the Church [Magisterium] which insure authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in written form [Sacred Scripture] or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium also insures the Church’s fidelity to the teachings of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals.

      July 16, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • peace2all

      @CatholicMom......Hi CM...I hope that you are doing well......

      O.K..... you state that "all we have are words to refute the bible.....but the bible has truth..."

      Again, bible =book of WORDS .....that said.....book of words(bible) doe NOT = the truth...

      And you offered no factual evidense other than what you usually post.....

      I would like to see some proof....this time, truly, I am not being condescending, I think you know me and my postings in general and with our back and forths by now....

      Please offer me some Real evidense, other than the 'take it on faith' or the pope knows as he is a direct conduit from god..

      Peace to you....

      July 16, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Hi, peace2all,
      thanks for your caring. Peace to you also.
      I am sorry you have no faith. Faith is something you cannot see. Love is something you cannot see. Do you have it?

      July 16, 2010 at 11:47 am |
    • Mike

      peace2all describe the dishoney on so many levels... Just because it's in a book. Then do you not believe 2+2 = 4 (in a book). What the united States territory looks like (in a book)?

      Even secular historians using the book to help piece together events of the past.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
    • Mike

      peace2all describe the dishoney on so many levels... Just because it's in a book. Then do you not believe 2+2 = 4 (in a book). What the united States territory looks like (in a book)?

      Even secular historians using the book to help piece together events of the past..

      July 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Mike..... You are comparing apples and.... ?? Bible=truth...etc... and you are using math and geography of U.S..in the same discussion and acting as if they are the same...?

      Are you kidding...? Improper and misguided attempts at using comparisons on different logical levels.

      Still does not offer ANY proof of what @truthinthebible is spouting and my response....


      July 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  16. Robert Ward

    Rev 17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
    Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
    Rev 17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

    This woman is no doubt the Catholic Church. I m shocked!!!

    July 16, 2010 at 2:44 am |
    • CatholicMom

      That is how it goes with private interpretations.....
      The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn might be a great help to you.

      July 16, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  17. Ted

    Study the Bible for about three months and you will never go back to the catholic church.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • peace2all

      @Ted...... Or, ANY christian church for that matter....

      July 16, 2010 at 12:50 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.