Irish church aims to end stigma for the children of priests

Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Bishops in Ireland have created detailed guidelines to address an issue the Roman Catholic Church has tried to keep under wraps for centuries: the plight of children born to Catholic priests and the women who bear them.

The policy, approved in May and made public recently, states that the wellbeing of the child is paramount. It says the mother must be respected and involved in decision-making, and that the priest “should face up to his responsibilities — personal, legal, moral and financial.”

The guidelines are believed to represent the first comprehensive public policy by a national bishops’ conference on the issue, which has long been shrouded in secrecy given the perceived scandal of priests having sex. While eastern rite Catholic priests can be married before ordination, Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy.

The policy is, in many ways, the fruit of a campaign by an Irish psychotherapist, Vincent Doyle, who discovered late in life that his father was a priest.

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