Vatican confirms it has secret rules for children of priests

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Sarah Thomas told CBS News she was 14 when she first met her father, a priest in England.

In 2017, the Irish Catholic Church published its guidelines after persuasion from Vincent Doyle, an Irishman who learned that his late godfather, a priest, was actually his father. "And there will be children of priests, who is scheduled to meet privately in Rome with several prominent prelates", the report says.

There are no official estimates of how many such children exist.

"I can confirm that these guidelines exist", Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told The New York Times. "It is an internal document".

At least 152 Catholic priests in Mexico have been suspended over the past nine years for sexual abuse against minors, and some of those priests have been jailed over those offences, Mexico's Archbishop for Monterrey said earlier this month.

Gisotti said "the fundamental principle behind these lines is the protection of the child".

"My mother had been told to keep it a secret by the Church", Sarah Thomas, who said she's proof priests sometimes break their vows to the Church, which for almost nine centuries has forbidden its clergymen from sex and marriage.

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He claims that under the secret rules, a priest who fathered children was requested to leave the priesthood and 'assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child'.

Nevertheless the Catholic Church has refused to budge from its longstanding tradition.

Pope Francis will receive bishops at the Vatican this week to discuss worldwide revelations of sexual abuse in the Church, which have hurt the institution's credibility.

While the protocol asks clergy to abandon their calling, the "request" is more of a non-binding formality, Monsignor Andrea Ripa, the under-secretary in the Congregation for the Clergy, said, noting that the rule is almost "impossible to impose".

Doyle founded a group called "Coping International" to bring together the children of priests, which already has 50,000 members in 175 countries.

The Pope added that more should be done.

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