New papal law outlaws child abuse on Vatican territory; victim support group is underwhelmed

VICTIMS of priestly rape are less than impressed by a new law laid down by Pope Frankie that prohibits kiddie-fiddling on the Vatican’s turf.

Reacting to news that the Pope has made it a crime to abuse children sexually or physically on Vatican grounds, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a US advocacy group for victims of abuse by priests and other clergy, pooh-poohed the law as “a feel good gesture”.

The Pope wields a big stick

The Pope wields a big stick

Said SNAP director David Clohessy in a written statement:

For the Vatican’s image, this is a successful move. For children’s safety, this is another setback … because it will help foster the false impression of reform and will lead to more complacency. The Church hierarchy doesn’t need new rules on abuse. It needs to follow long-established secular laws on abuse. And it needs to push for, not oppose, real reforms to archaic, predator-friendly secular laws (like the statute of limitations).

The legislation also covers child prostitution and the creation or possession of child pornography.

The acts were already crimes under Church law, but are now specifically outlawed within the Vatican city-state, which is home to hundreds of people.

But it has a “broader scope,” according to Radio Vatican. It adds provisions of international laws against war crimes, racial discrimination and humiliating treatment or punishment to the Vatican’s legal system.

Frankie issued the new laws as a “moto proprio”, meaning that the document was his own initiative, Vatican Radio said.

The new criminal laws are part of an ongoing update of the Vatican’s legal system, which began under Pope Benedict XVI.

Meanwhile, if you are currently at a loose end and would like to win a gift card or a zippered drawstring bag or a terry velour golf towel or a solar power pack,  why not enter the Religious News Service’s Pope Francis Art competition.


95 responses to “New papal law outlaws child abuse on Vatican territory; victim support group is underwhelmed”

  1. Crystal says:

    Well at least your opinion isn’t one-sided. I think you see one of the points I was trying to make–namely, “If one believes that the Catholic Church and religious education/formation is brainwashing, then he must also say the same of other religions.”

    I am sorry that you were hurt. However, I’m even more sorry that you haven’t been able to see that those who hurt you are not the entire organization. The actions of some priests and bishops who either committed the crimes or covered them up are deplorable, but they don’t have to be a reflection on the entire Catholic Church.

    I find it interesting that you state that you wife works at the very place that you accuse if indoctrinating children or one that you call evil. What does that make her? Is she inherently a bad person because she supports the school? I don’t think so, but if you listen to what has been said here, it would make it seem that some do.

    So, if you follow what AgentCormac is saying, then would you be saying that your sisters are bad parents? Or that your parents were bad parents?

    I’m not ready to run off, as I learned (in my path to becoming Catholic, btw) to be respectful of the opinions of others and to not shy away from my own religious beliefs.

  2. Crystal says:

    So, I guess I should learn to pay attention to the website that I am posting comments too.

    I asked in a previous post, “So, are you all atheist then?”

    Then I see the title of this website!!! Well, now I get it! You’ve all decided that the “institution” of religion is the biggest evil of this earth! It’s not just Catholicism, it’s religion as a whole.

    Well, I guess you have a right to your opinion and believes as do I.

    I should probably get back to reality and work.

    May you all be blessed in life!

  3. Broga says:

    @Crystal: You taught your children t love God? Is that God the brutish tyrant who demands slavish applause, who slaughters whoever disagrees with his dictat, who presumably creates the same sexual feelings he then insists meet with condign punishment. I never taught my children to do other than think objectively, to examine what people try to persuade them to believe and to act as decent human beings.

    They have done well in life and are successful professionals. And my grandchildren are following a similar pattern. We don’t need your fantasy God. How can you teach your children to love what does not exist?

  4. Crystal says:


    NO, that is the God who teaches us to love one another, to treat others with respect, to be kind and loving. The God who freed his people from slavery, who sent his son to free us all of our own sins. The God who gives his people the strength to carry on each day through trials and tribulations.

    I am not here to say that one must have religion to be a good person. I am sure you and your children and grandchildren are good people.

    I am here to say that I have a right to believe as I wish as do you.

    Honestly, I did not realize that I was commenting on a story written by an atheist website. Had I, I may not have bothered.

    Not out of fear (as one may think), but out of respect for your own wishes.

    If you have been hurt by religion, nothing little old me says will change that.

  5. chrsbol says:


    So, if you follow what AgentCormac is saying, then would you be saying that your sisters are bad parents? Or that your parents were bad parents?

    Yes and yes.

  6. Broga says:

    Crystal: Don’t you see how selective you are in praising your God? What about all his brutal actions? How do you know that is not the “real” God and not the one you choose so selectively to believe.

    I have met Christians who insist that the bible is the divine word of God and therefore inerrant. By bible they mean the King James translation and they conveniently ignore all the other versions. When I have pointed out some of the clear and inescapable contradictions and asked which one they believe they say these are merely tests of faith. If you pray and believe you will realise that they are not really contradictions.

    This I suggest, is a deceitful means of escaping facing the obvious: the bible is a untrustworthy and largely fictional book.

  7. Crystal says:


    WOW! You must not have a good relationship with your sisters and parents then.

    How offensive for you to assume that anyone who teaches their children in a way other than what you believe to be correct is a bad parent.

    I would never say that you or any other atheist is a bad parent if you choose to teach your children to believe in the same way you do. Or to be “freethinkers”.

    “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

    Yes, that is a Bible verse, but it is also just a fact of good morals.

    It isn’t fair to begin to presume that what you believe is the only good way.

    I choose to believe in God and what the Bible teaches. That doesn’t mean that I believe that anyone who doesn’t is an inherently bad person.

    Granted, I realize that I’m not the norm. 🙂 LOL.

  8. Daz says:


    Daz, I cannot tell you if the steps that are taken in the US are WorldWide. I have not researched that fact.

    Watch the first ten minutes or so of the video I linked. In thirteen states of your own country at least some of those steps are not legal requirements. So your research, even as regards the US, is not exactly air-tight, is it?

    Regarding parenting, my own view is that a parent who teaches myth as fact, when their whole society tells them that it’s okay to treat that myth as fact is not necessarily a bad parent, but they are indulging in societally-promoted bad parenting. There is, however, something deeply wrong with a society which promotes such bad parenting as somehow good.

  9. AgentCormac says:

    So, if religion = brainwashed then I guess we are all brainwashed and I praise God for it!

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

  10. Crystal says:


    I am not selective as I have read the portions of the Bible that describe God’s wrath (for lack of a better description), but I have also read the context. I have read the before and after of these moments. I understand the why and the what happened next.

    How do I know?–I have Faith! There are just somethings in our lives that we can’t explain!

    As previously mentioned, I am a Catholic Christian, therefore, I primarily read the New American Bible. However, I also own and have read the KJV and the NIV Bible. What you see as contradictions are often times a result of differences in the age of the writings or who it is that has written the words down or translation errors.

    I am not here to try to change your beliefs and I respectfully as you not to try to change mine.

    I posted in defense of my believes and I respect that you have a right to do the same.

  11. Crystal says:

    Well, I respectfully disagree with much of what you have all responded and I respect that you disagree with me. I have shared my feelings with you and I appreciate that you have as well. You believe as you believe and I believe as I believe.

    I have no intention of trying to convert you and I would hope you would not try to convert me.

    I find the title of this website somewhat ironic as I am a freethinker as well. I am free to think that my choice to worship God and be a member of the Catholic church is the right one for me and my family.

    I appreciate that you have respectfully debated with me, but I truly do not see a point in continuing the conversation. At this point, I will bough out of this discussion as I do not wish to offend or be offended.

    I do wish you all well and I pray that someday you heal from the pain that was inflicted upon you. I pray that the entire society (yes, even Christians) learn to accept individual beliefs even if they differ from our own.

    Thank you again for the debate and I hope (if nothing else), I’ve shown respect to you all.

  12. AgentCormac says:

    I am free to think that my choice to worship God and be a member of the Catholic church is the right one for me and my family.

    Sounds like you didn’t want the rest of your family to do much thinking for themselves though, Crystal.

  13. Crystal says:

    OH how you pull one back in. 🙂 hehe

    Daz, the video is referring to child daycare centers.

    I’m referring to religion class (catechism), youth groups, etc. and to Catholic schools.

    I’m referring to steps that the Catholic Church has taken. I cannot speak to what non-catholic institutions have done or not done.

    Yes, as a mother it is my place to teach what I believe is best for my children! You may disagree with that, but you are not my childrens’ parent. You do not know my children, you do not know how open the discussions in my home are, you do not know what my children and I have been through and how we find our strength.

    So, I guess you will continue to say I am a brain-washer and a bad parent.

    I will end all this conversation by saying this, “I will go to sleep tonight thanking God for my life, for my children’s lives, and for the free will that God has given us all!”

    God Bless you all!

  14. AgentCormac says:

    I will end all this conversation by saying this, “I will go to sleep tonight thanking God for my life, for my children’s lives, and for the free will that God has given us all!”

    God Bless you all!

    Why do I find it impossible to read that without hearing the queen’s patronising voice dismissing us all at the end of one of her xmas lectures?

  15. Broga says:


    “What you see as contradictions are often times a result of differences in the age of the writings or who it is that has written the words down or translation errors.”

    If that is so, according your own admission, how can you possibly know what to believe. How do you know what is a translation error and what is the “truth.” What enables you, more than anyone else, to know? Christians come to many different conclusions about what their bible means. Are you right and anyone who comes to a different conclusion wrong?

    I think you have blundered into exposing your own confusion when you entered debate on this site. You have encountered challenge instead of unthinking Christians all convincing each other. You are looking flaky, Crystal. Be honest. Admit it. You are struggling and very unconvincing.

  16. Crystal says:


    If having faith makes me flaky, then so be it!

    I did not post here to convince anyone of anything. As I’ve indicated, I thought I was responding simply to an article regarding the new papal law. I didn’t realize I had jumped into an atheist website.

    Not that having done so is a bad thing, but I am not qualified to change your mind, nor do I want to.

    You have a right to believe as you wish, as do I.

    Truthfully, I find it interesting that you claim to be a free thinker and want to debate, but during my brief time here I have been called a bad parent, part of a vial organization, stupid for conversion, basically ignorant, etc.

    In contrast, I have been as respectful as I can to you all.

    Why would I or anyone want to continue a debate under those circumstances?

    Goodbye and Good Life.

  17. AgentCormac says:

    I did not post here to convince anyone of anything.

    Actually, Crystal, I seem to recall that you posted here with the express intention of convincing us that the rcc is being unfairly criticised as ‘not all priests are paedophiles’.

  18. Broga says:

    @Crystal: Ah, I see. You have no answer to the comments I made and so you are running for cover. You, after I assume a lifetime of foolish beliefs, cannot bear to face the truth. So you make no response. I do not think this inability to respond does any credit to you or your God. Perhaps your God, on the assumption that he exists, has more respect for honest atheists who use the brain he gave them rather than duplicitous Christians.

    I don’t think I have abused you. You seem to be a decent person led sadly astray by RC indoctrination. I did call the Roman Catholic Church a vile organisation and I suggest there is overwhelming evidence to support that opinion.

  19. Angela_K says:

    I doubt Crystal will come back because she is like all the other religious types who come here to support their religion with specious arguments. She fails to understand that her children – as are all children – born atheists and only become religious due to parental indoctrination; she is selfishly inflicting her disease on her children.

  20. Broga says:

    @Angela_K: They arrive confident that spouting repetitious religious “truths” will convince us and discover that they are being refuted. This is a shock. Not so much that they are being refuted but that there is a challenge at all. They have spent their lives cowering from facts as they shiver behind their very flaky faith. Coming here is an anxiety arousing experience for Christians who spend their lives justifying each others fantasies.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Broga/Angela et al: You’re wasting your time with these idiots. Like the stupid “Fatima-Zahra” (if “she” is genuine), they find life and the real world so frightening that they have retreated into a little make-believe world of their own. Their imaginary Sky-Daddy will keep them safe and make everything all right for them, and if there are things that he can’t fix for some reason that they don’t comprehend then never mind, he will make it all come good in the wonderful “afterlife” that he has prepared for them. Though there isn’t a scrap of evidence for any of this nonsense they prefer the fantasy to the harsh realities of life, so reasoning with them is a pointless exercise, and doomed to failure. You will come up against a brick wall every time, because if they REALLY started to question their beliefs the whole house of cards would come crashing down around their ears and well they know it!

  22. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: You are, as we know, correct but I have a problem. I just can’t stop expecting them to behave reasonably. And it is so frustrating to be faced with people who abandon common sense when it suits them and flee into fantasy. In my head I think, “They must know they are wrong.” One example is the biblical contradiction thing. How can they not see a contradiction when it is laid before them?

  23. barriejohn says:

    “There are many things that we cannot know now, Broga, but we will know when we die!”

  24. Crystal says:

    I do not fear responding to you. I am not ashamed of my beliefs or my choices anymore than you should be ashamed of yours.

    @Broga & Angela,

    The point of my posts was not to defend Christianity or any religion. In fact, I didn’t even know that I was posting on an Atheist site.

    I simply tried to state the following:

    1. Perhaps the Pope is actually trying to make positive changes.
    2. It isn’t fair to blame the entire Roman Catholic Church for the actions of some.
    3. It isn’t fair to assume that all priests are pedophiles

    And then after several comments make and forth, I felt the need to state this….

    Choosing to raise your child with religious beliefs does not in anyway constitute child abuse or bad parenting.

  25. Crystal says:


    Can you not see the contradiction in your belief that there is no higher power? Tell me then, how do you explain the unexplainable?

    The person cured of cancer with no medical explanation?

    The creation of all matter?

    Even the evolution theory has its contradictions.

    I did answer your comment in regard to what you see as contradictions in the Bible. You refuse to see them.

    1. (and most importantly) If one picks out specific parts of the Bible but refuses to see the context they will find error. It’s called reading the entire context.
    2.) The Old Testament was written before Jesus Christ was born. It was written in a different time when individuals needed a different lesson (so to speak). The New Testament is primarily the teachings after Jesus Christ, thus the people knew about the savior.
    3.) What you call contradictions are often an issue of interpretations.
    4.) Finally, I will admit to you that I am not a theologian, I have not spent years and years studying every inch of the Bible as they do.
    Therefore, it is likely that you will take my “lay” opinions and beliefs and strew them to fit your agenda!

  26. Crystal says:


    You stated that Christians use religion as a way to escape reality or explain away bad things in their lives, you are sadly mistaken! Or escape from reality.

    I have experienced things in this life that would make you scream in horror. I have gained personal strength and understanding from those experiences. You have no idea of the REALITY that I have had to face. So, don’t begin to assume that I hide from anything. I face it and I fight against it.

    I don’t use my belief in God to hide from anything, but I do believe that God supports me through it all!

    I have at times doubted my own believes and chooses. However, I have also educated myself: academically and spiritually.

    I am not some robot or idiot that can’t think for herself. Rather, I have done my research and I have learned about other beliefs and I still choose to believe in God!

  27. AgentCormac says:

    Tell me then, how do you explain the unexplainable?

    By seeking out the facts and looking for as long as it takes to find the truth rather than starting with the answer and hoping you can twist the evidence to make it fit. And therein lies the chasm which stands between science and religious faith.

  28. Crystal says:


    You may not see this, but science and religious faith can co-exist.

    Some things can’t be explained by science alone and some things can’t be explained by religion alone.

  29. AgentCormac says:

    Let me rephrase that for you:

    Some things can’t be explained by science alone just yet, and some things will never be explained by religion alone because it already thinks it has all the answers.

  30. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    I have at times doubted my own believes and chooses.

    Aaaarghhh! I’m sorry Crystal and this is totally off topic but please, can you stop writing that you have “believes” and “chooses”. You don’t, you have “beliefs” and “choices”.

    Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, it was spoiling my reading of your posts.

  31. Daz says:

    Tell me then, how do you explain the unexplainable?

    I say “I don’t know.” I’m perfectly happy not knowing. I’d much rather not know something than “explain” it by labelling it “god,” and pretending that by attaching a label I’d actually explained something.

  32. Crystal says:

    I do appreciate the grammatical corrections.

    Interesting how trying to write a response quickly can lead to such things.

    I have noted a few of those errors, as well as typographical errors after having already posted.

    Unfortunately, this website does not allow me to correct those errors. 🙂

  33. Crystal says:

    So, Daz….

    You are basically saying that you have Faith!

    You have Faith in the unknown, Faith that there is an explanation, but you just haven’t found it yet.

    Don’t see religion is based on Faith.

  34. Crystal says:


    That should read….

    Don’t you see religion is based on Faith.

  35. Daz says:

    OMG it’s William Lame-Argument Craig in disguise!

    No, I do not have “faith.” There are questions which I sincerely doubt we’ll ever manage to answer. The “cause” (if any) of the existence of the universe, for instance. I most certainly do not “have faith” that we will ever be able to answer such questions. I’m merely not interested in the faux-explanation “god did it,” which pretends to answer everything but in fact answers nothing.

  36. barriejohn says:

    Crystal: You’re talking nonsense. I am an ex-evangelical Christian so you can’t pull the wool over MY eyes. I don’t know whether you are lying or deluded, but I won’t be reading any more of your bullshit.

  37. Crystal says:


    Now who is running in fear? Now who is unwilling to debate?

    I find it interesting that you waited to respond to any of my posts until you thought I was gone and now that I have stated that I don’t fear you or your beliefs you would rather run from the discussion.

    And you have the nerve to call me an idiot and fearful.

    “Hello Pot, meet Kettle”

  38. Broga says:

    @Crystal: So that is your explanation for bible contradictions? More like wishful thinking? And which bible? There are many? Or indeed which version of Christianity as the followers of different versions seem to detest each other. I suppose you think your version of Christianity is the true one. And I suppose you think Christianity is the true religion.

    I have a christian relative who said she knew her religion must be the true one because it was the only one where they believed their prophet was the son of God. She became unstuck when I wanted clarification about the son being God and where the holy ghost fitted in. She keeps trying to convert me and pursues me at family gatherings.

    Her husband has asked me to stop disagreeing with her as he says every time we have a discussion she cannot sleep afterwards and needs more of the anti depressants she takes. I have told him she always raises these subjects with me. I am happy to be left with my atheism.

  39. Crystal says:


    I do not wish to convert you.

    As to the “explanation”, I clearly stated that I am not a theologian, I have not studied every inch of the Bible. I am sharing with you my personal beliefs.

    I realize that you will find many Christians who do believe that their denomination is the only “correct” one or that their way of worshiping is the only way.

    I do not feel this way. I was raised in a Protestant Christian church but was never baptized. As an adult, I chose to be baptized in the Catholic Church and have continued to educate myself on Christianity and the Catholic denomination.

    Additionally, I enjoy reading and learning about other religions. Interestingly enough, I can see one common thread in many of these religions–a higher power–he who I call God.

    I mean, shoot–since stumbling upon this discussion, I have begun to research some Atheist, Agnostic, and Secular teachings.

    While I can respect the beliefs of many, I know what I believe and I am not afraid to say it!

    One area where I bet you and I can agree is that so many people have blind faith in their own religious denomination. They listen to what their clergy tells them, they read the Bible, but they don’t research further.

    I am not such an individual. It sounds as if your relative is one. My recommendation to her would be open her mind and to research her own churches doctrine before trying to educate others.

    I am not here to change you. I would like to be respected for my own beliefs.

  40. Crystal says:


    Another fact of Christianity that I will share…

    Catholicism was the first Christian Church and the only Christian denomination for over 1500 years.

    The Protestant Reformation led to other denominations being formed.

    This fact is the reason why many Catholics will state that their church is the correct church.

  41. Broga says:

    @Crystal: On the basis of your last post you indicate an attempt at having an open mind. I try to have the same. I have read fairly widely on religion at various times and particularly those authors where Christians have told me I will find the answers to my doubts. For example, an over many years, Teilhard de Chardin, John Robinson, Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, Buddhist and Taoist authors, Michael de Montaigne.

    Where I found some help was in the ancient Stoics: particularly Epicurus and Epictetus. However, what really convinces me anyway are the atheist authors: Richard Dawkins (much reviled by Christians but a gentle, ironic and temperate man), Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and others.

    I do not quote this list to parade my learning which, compared to some here, is modest and of no great note. But to indicate that the question of what we believe, what drives our lives, what motivates our behaviour is something of very great importance. I have tried to discover, as best I can, what is worth accepting as a philosophy of life. So far that is atheism – until I find something better. What irritates me are those who, like the relative I mentioned, have read little, accepted what their priests tell them without question and presume to convert me to their beliefs on that basis.

  42. Broga says:

    @Crystal: I didn’t mean your last post indicates your openness. I meant a previous post. You las post shows the fallacious logic of the “appeal to tradition”. On this basis we would still believe the world was flat.

  43. Crystal says:


    See that is where we are alike. I believe that the question of what we believe is very important as well.

    It’s just that you and I believe differently.

    I truly do wish you all well, but I must bid you all farewell as this discussion (as rousing and interesting as it is) has kept me from my job and I must continue working for the man. 🙂

  44. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Another fact of Christianity that I will share…

    Catholicism was the first Christian Church and the only Christian denomination for over 1500 years

    Incorrect. The Ethiopian Coptic Church claims to be the original church and there are (or were, before they started being driven out lately) many versions of Coptic churches throughout the middle east. Further, the Orthodox varieties of church, (Greek, Syrian, Byzantine, etc.) were in existence long before the formation of the Roman Catholic church.

  45. Daz says:

    Catholicism was the first Christian Church

    which means, I assume, that Christianity sprang into existence from nowhere, in 325 CE? [Link]