July 15th, 2010
09:34 AM ET

Catholic Church must name abusive priests, critic insists

New Vatican new rules aimed at stopping the abuse of children by priests do not go far enough, child-safety campaigners said Thursday.

"The pope had a chance to do something really decisive that would affect the situation worldwide," said Anne Barrett Doyle, but instead 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 without a formal Vatican trial, or to hand out other punishments.

They also make it a crime for a priest to download child pornography, and declare the abuse of mentally handicapped people to be as bad as child abuse.

But Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability, 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.'"

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 re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic."

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

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. ron grimes

    When enough people scream loud enough and get personally involved to fight against the atrocities within the Church then and only then will aynthing be done. I'm talking about people no longer should give their hard earned money to the Church,
    people should stop attending Mass, people should call their Congressional leaders and scream as loud as possible, people
    should demonstrate against the officials in the church and anything at all to keep a movement going against this evil. When the
    screaming and rallying together against this monopoly goes on long enough then someone may start to listen.
    When I say everyone should get involved I include myself..

    September 22, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Al Tilley

    Let us respect our Holy Mother, the church. Anything done in the service of a Reverend Father is done for the Lord.

    September 22, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
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