"It's the next scandal" for the Vatican, according to one man right in the middle of it. Just days after Pope Francis admitted there was a problem within the Catholic Church involving nuns impregnated by male clergy, sometimes leading to forced abortions, Vincent Doyle talks to the New York Times about the flip side of that: being the child fathered by one of those priests. And although Doyle and reportedly thousands of others like him have long been open about their origins, Rome hasn't—until now. A Vatican spokesman tells the paper that there's a secret set of rules for dealing with priests who flout their vow of celibacy and father children, sometimes due to consensual affairs and other times due to abuse or rape. "I can confirm that these guidelines exist," Alessandro Gisotti told the Times. "It is an internal document."
Doyle says he was shown a copy of these long-hidden guidelines in 2017 by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, who told him, "You're actually called 'children of the ordained.'" Doyle adds, "I was shocked they had a term for it." Gisotti says the guidelines are meant for the "protection of the child," and that they "request" the priest in question give up his vestments to "assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child." Another Vatican official says that even though it's framed as a request, if a priest didn't ask to be relieved of his duties, he "will be dismissed." The newly revealed rules also brings to the forefront the issue of celibacy overall, and whether the Vatican should change its position on whether priests should take such a vow. CNN notes the church has so far "refused to budge" from its stance, despite mounting evidence that such vows are often broken. (Read more Catholic Church sex scandals stories.)