Category Archives: Vatican

Analysis: What Vatican’s sex abuse prevention summit got right — and what it missed

No sweeping new law was announced to punish bishops who cover up abuse. No files were released or global reporting requirement endorsed requiring priestly rapists to be reported to police.

Four Priests Who Fathered Children Remain In The Chicago Archdiocese

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed a handful of its priests have fathered children over the years, despite their vows of celibacy, including four who remain in the ministry.

“A very small number of priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago have fathered children. The latest case was nearly twenty years ago. In every case provision was made for the support of the child,” church officials said in a statement Friday morning.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Maselli said, in each case, the fathers financially supported their children.

Four of those priests who fathered children while in the priesthood remain with the Archdiocese.

The announcement from the Archdiocese comes as bishops from all over the world, including Cardinal Blase Cupich, gather at the Vatican for a summit on priest sexual abuse.

Cupich told the crowd he knows the scandal has left many faithful confused and disillusioned.

“Sadly, many of our people, not just those abused or parents of those abused, but the faithful at large are wondering if we the leaders of the Church fully understand this sacred bond, this reality; particularly when they see little care given to abused children, or even worse, when it is covered up to protect the abuser or the institution.”

Earlier this week, CBS News confirmed the Vatican has secret guidelines for priests who father children in violation of their vows of celibacy. Vincent Doyle, the founder of a support group for children of priests, told CBS News that a Vatican official showed him the confidential instructions.

Doyle said he’s been pushing the Church to publicly support those children, who often grow up living in shame and secrecy. CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi spoke with him and other children of priests fighting for recognition from the Catholic Church.

Sarah Thomas is one of those children. She told CBS News that she’s proof priests sometimes break their vows to the Church, which for nearly nine centuries has forbidden its clergymen from sex and marriage.

“My mother had been told to keep it a secret by the Church,” she told Saberi.

Thomas was 14 when she first met her father, a priest in England.

“It soon became apparent that he couldn’t or wouldn’t or wasn’t allowed to be any sort of father to me in any meaningful sense,” Thomas said, adding that the hardest part of her youth was “feeling very isolated. I literally thought I was the only priest child in the world.”

But she now believes there could be thousands of children like her, and they’re slowly being recognized — starting in Ireland.

In 2017, Ireland’s Catholic Church published ground-breaking guidelines for priests, declaring that if “a priest fathers a child, the well-being of his child should be his first consideration,” and he should “face up to his responsibilities — personal, legal, moral and financial.”

Doyle told Saberi that he pushed for the guidelines after learning that his late god-father, an Irish priest, was his real father.

The guidelines were the first time the Catholic Church had publicly admitted that there even are priests’ kids. But they are guidelines — not requirements.

Doyle accepts that but said, “the first problem with children of priests is they’re not recognized.”

“When you’re hidden… you are characterized by secrecy,” he added. That, he said, “eats away at their sense of worth.”

Nearly two years after the Catholic Church in Ireland approved the guidelines for priests with children, Church officials around the world are taking notice.

The Catholic Church in America is looking at a similar model, and the Vatican confirmed to CBS News on Tuesday that guidelines already exist for all Catholic clergy.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti confirmed to CBS News the existence of “a document for internal use, which summarizes the practice formed over the years in the Congregation and is not intended for publication.”

Gisotti said “the fundamental principle behind these lines is the protection of the child. For this reason, the document ordinarily requires that the priest present a request for dispensation from the duties of the clerical state and, as a layman, assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively” to their child.

Doyle has pressed Pope Francis to announce such guidelines himself, publicly, and on Tuesday he said that while the Vatican guidelines “are an acknowledgement of a global problem, I now call on The Congregation for Clergy (Vatican office) to release them without delay.”

Asked what he wants from the pope, in particular, Doyle told CBS News it would only take, “two words, three words, four words, that these children are recognized; ‘we acknowledge your pain, we condemn this pain, and we want to fix this pain.’”

To help them with their pain, Doyle created the website “Coping International,” offering resources and counseling. Now there’s a worldwide community of people, growing.

Thomas is part of that community and is doing a PhD on it.

“What’s coming out more and more is that these children are ready for some change,” she told Saberi. “Change is very difficult for the Catholic Church, but change is happening.”

Clergy Abuse Survivors Meet With Catholic Leaders Ahead Of Key Vatican Summit

(CNN) — Organizers of a key Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse met with abuse survivors from around the world on Wednesday, saying afterward that the meeting will help them “better understand the gravity and urgency of the difficulties” church leaders will face during the four-day summit.

The meeting lasted for about two hours, according to a Vatican statement, and included 12 clergy abuse survivors from around the world.

“The members of the committee are very grateful to the victims who participated for their sincerity, the depth and the strength of their testimonies, which will certainly help them to always better understand the gravity and urgency of the difficulties that they will confront during the course of the meeting,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean abuse survivor who helped organize the encounter, said it was attended by four members of the organizing committee for the Meeting of the Protection of Minors, including Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and the Rev. Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit who is president of the Center for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

“I felt that they had a open mind and that they sincerely want something to happen,” Cruz told CNN.

The 12 abuse survivors, including representatives from the groups Ending Clergy Abuse, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and BishopAccountability.org, shared their experiences of abuse, Cruz said.

“And then there was a dialogue. Sometimes it got a bit intense, but there was a climate of respect.”

Cruz said the intensity in the room at the Institute Maria Bambina in Vatican City ratcheted up when some clergy abuse survivors pressed church officials on what actions they will take during the four-day summit that begins on Thursday.

Peter Isely of the group Ending Clergy Abuse, who also attended the meeting, said he was disappointed that Pope Francis was not there, though the Pope has met several times previously with abuse survivors.

Isely also said he demanded that church officials adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for clergy abusers and bishops who fail to protect children.

“We made our demands and we think that’s the demands of not just survivors but for people everywhere: zero tolerance,” Isely said.

For the first time in Catholic history, nearly 200 church leaders from around the world, including more than 100 bishops, will gather at the Vatican starting Thursday to confront the scourge of clergy who sexually abuse children.

The unprecedented four-day summit, convened by Pope Francis last September, will include two speeches by the Pope, talks outlining best practices, small group discussions among bishops and a penitential ceremony involving abuse survivors.

The meeting comes as the Catholic Church is confronting a growing number of scandals, from priests and bishops accused of sexually abusing nuns to a salacious new book to be published Thursday that calls the Vatican “one of the biggest gay communities in the world” in which clergy regularly break their vows of celibacy.

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Cupich Hopes Vatican Summit On Sex Abuse Crisis Will Be A ‘Turning Point’

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Blase Cupich will join nearly 200 Catholic leaders from around the world at the Vatican later this week, for a four-day summit on the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Pope Francis convened the summit of more than 190 presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world in an effort to seek solutions to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Cupich said he hopes people see this as a “turning point.”

“It’s not the endgame. No one can ever say that there’s never going to be abuse that happens in the world, or the church, but we’re going to do everything possible to make sure that people are held responsible, accountable, and there’s going to be transparency. Because those three elements will keep children safe, and it’s important that we make that the priority,” he said.

A dozen sex abuse survivors who descended on Rome to protest the church’s response to the scandal will meet with a four-member committee on Wednesday in Rome to talk about their concerns.

The Catholic Church has long been criticized for its failure to hold bishops accountable when they covered up for priests who raped and molested children.

Church leaders said the summit would focus on three key aspects of dealing with the crisis: making bishops aware of their own responsibilities to protect their flocks, the consequences of shirking those responsibilities, and the need for transparency.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator and an organizer of Wednesday’s meeting with survivors, said transparency was key; since the church’s knee-jerk response of denial and silence in the past had only exacerbated the problem.

“Whether it’s criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence, or whether it’s denial or trauma in its very primitive state, we need to get away from that,” he told reporters. “We have to face the facts.”

Chilean abuse victim Juan Carlos Cruz, who is coordinating the survivor meeting, told The Associated Press he hopes for a “constructive and open dialogue” and for summit members to convey survivors’ demand that bishops stop pleading ignorance about abuse.

“Raping a child or a vulnerable person and abusing them has been wrong since the 1st century, the Middle Ages, and now,” he said.

Francis called the summit in September after he himself discredited Cruz and other Chilean victims of a notorious predator priest. Francis was subsequently implicated in the cover-up of Theodore McCarrick, the onetime powerful American cardinal who just last week was defrocked for sexually abusing minors as well as adults.

Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome, to both familiarize themselves with victims’ pain and trauma and debunk the widely held idea that clergy sex abuse only happens in some parts of the world.

Survivors will be represented at the summit itself, but only in a few key moments of prayer.

Summit moderator the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he would gladly receive any written messages from other survivors, expressing an openness to hear from a broad cross-section of victims.

Cruz said the key message for the bishops to take away from the summit is that they must enforce true “zero tolerance” or face the consequences.

“There are enforceable laws in the church to punish not only those who commit the abuse but those who cover it up,” he told the AP. “No matter what rank they have in the church, they should pay.”

Cupich, another conference organizer, agreed.

“There is going to be every effort to close whatever loopholes there are, to make sure that people understand on an individual basis as bishops what their responsibilities are,” he said. “Because they are going to be held accountable.”