Vatican confirms it has a secret set of rules for priests who father children

The Vatican has a secret set of rules for priests who break their vow of celibacy and father children, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church confirmed to The New York Times Monday.

“I can confirm that these guidelines exist,” the Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti wrote to the Times. “It is an internal document.”

Gisotti said the document “requests” that the father leave priesthood to “assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child.”

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The Times learned about the guidelines from Vincent Doyle, the son of a priest, who has created a global support group to help other children of priests.

Doyle says his website, Coping International, has 50,000 users in 175 countries.

Doyle told the Times he was first shown the guidelines in October 2017 by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva.

“You’re actually called ‘children of the ordained,’” Doyle recalled Jurkovic saying. “I was shocked they had a term for it.”

The children are sometimes the result of affairs involving priests and women outside of the church or nuns, while others are from cases of abuse or rape.

The first official confirmation from the Vatican of their secret rules comes as the world's bishops plan to meet this week to address the child sexual abuse crisis rocking the church.