Vatican guidelines for priests’ children released from secrecy

Vatican guidelines for the way the Church should treat children of priests have been released after after a meeting with Vincent Doyle, a prominent campaigner on the issue.

Doyle, whose father was a priest, is a member of  Coping International, an organisation that campaigns for the rights of priests’ children.

Although the guidelines are not new, they have been secret until now.

Last year the secrecy around them changed when the Congregation for the Clergy said it was happy to send them to any Bishop’s conference that requested them.

This development followed a meeting between Mgr Andrea Ripa, Undersecretary for the Congregation, and Doyle.

Coping International and the Congregation for the Clergy then cooperated over their release.

Doyle says he is “delighted” with the release.

He says it represents represent an important step towards transparency on the part of the Vatican and adds weight to the prioritisation of the natural rights of the child to know his or her parents.

Previously, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy between 2006 and 2010, emphasised the obligation to equal treatment on the part of the children of the ordained had to outweigh any other interests.

Hummes said this was also the opinion of Pope Benedict XVI during his time in office.

Ripa indicated during discussions with Doyle that it would be possible for a priest to remain in ministry, having fathered a child.

He said whether this would occur would be subject to two other considerations.

One is the priest’s suitability for ministry and the other concentrates on the good of the child. This represents a significant change in the attitude of the Vatican regarding such situations.

Given Ripa’s comments that it would not be “impossible” for priests to continue in their ministry after fathering a child, Doyle pointed to the recent suggestion of the ordination of “viri probati” as priests could provide a “remedy” for “procreative breaches in celibacy”.

If this were the case, it would remove the clash of vocations that has previously led to children being raised without knowledge of their father, or in secret.


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