Vatican reveals more about guidelines on children of priests

The Tablet

April 29, 2019

By Ruth Gledhill

The Vatican has confirmed that guidelines on dealing with Catholic priests who father children are sent to any episcopal conference that requests them.

Mgr Andrea Ripa, of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote to Vincent Doyle, founder of the Coping International, which defends the rights of children of priests worldwide, confirming the policy of the Vatican concerning the document.

“Should an Episcopal Conference request the text from the Congregation, we are more than happy to send them a copy,” he wrote.

Now Mr Doyle is calling on the Vatican to publish the guidelines in full.

The existence of the document has been known since 2017, but it has never been published.

It is not known how many children of priests there are, but Coping International’s website has 50,000 users.

In a recent interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, said: “The Dicastery follows the longstanding practices from the time when Cardinal Claudio Hummes was prefect — about ten years — who first brought to the attention of the Holy Father (at the time, Benedict XVI) the cases of priests under the age of 40 with children, proposing that they obtain the dispensation [from clerical state] without waiting for the age of 40, as provided for in the norms [in force] at the time.

“Such a decision had, and has, as its principle objective, the safeguarding of the good of the child, that is, the right of the child to have at his side a father as well as a mother.”

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