For children of priests, the good of the child comes first

Vatican News

February 27, 2019

By Andrea Tornielli

The topic of “children of priests” has long been considered taboo, with the result that often, especially in the past, these children grew up without a known and acknowledged father. This topic, then, is distinct from the questions addressed in last week’s Meeting in the Vatican, which focused on the abuse committed against minors.

Recently, Irish psychotherapist Vincent Doyle, a son of a priest, was present in Rome. He is the founder of “Coping International”, an association for the defence of the rights of children fathered by Catholic priests throughout the world. Doyle wants to waive his anonymity and offer psychological help to “the many people born from a relationship between a woman and a priest” in various parts of the world. In recent interviews with diverse media, Doyle has spoken of a document of the Congregation for the Clergy, regarding the attitude to be taken in these cases. The existence of these internal documents — sometimes described, inaccurately, as “secret” — has been known since 2017, and the general criteria regarding protecting the children of priests was recently confirmed by Alessandro Gisotti, the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office. Vatican News spoke with Cardinal Beniamino Stella, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, which has the responsibility of dealing with cases of this sort.

Andrea Tornielli: What are the criteria that guide the decisions to be made in the case of priests with children?

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