The Next Great Priestly Scandal: Priests Who Have Fathered Illegitimate Children

The Next Great Priestly Scandal, PDF format

Lawsuits against Priests by Their Lovers and Children

As everyone knows, Roman Catholic priests are forbidden to marry, but have to take a vow of perpetual celibacy.  This unnatural and unbiblical vow (see 1 Tim. 4:1-3) has been the root cause of innumerable sexual sins and crimes throughout Rome’s long history.  The international scandal of tens of thousands of priests being exposed as child sexual abusers in the past few decades has focused the attention of millions on one of the great evils which the taking of such a vow has done so much to promote.

But the sins and crimes go far beyond even this abomination: Roman Catholic priests have also committed sexual sins with other men, particularly other priests, in unnatural sodomite acts; with nuns in convents; with women who confess to them in the confessional; and – not surprisingly – their sexual activity has resulted in the fathering of illegitimate children all over the world.[1]

This scandal really started to come to public attention in 2010, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, when many former lovers of priests, and their children, prepared to mount lawsuits.[2]

Vatican Admits Having a Document of Guidelines for “Fathers” who Become Fathers

The Roman Catholic news source, Zenit, has now even admitted, “The topic of ‘children of priests’ has long been considered taboo, with the result that often, especially in the past, these children grew up without a known and acknowledged father.”[3]

And the Vatican has also now (in 2019) acknowledged that it actually has a document of guidelines for priests who have violated their vow of celibacy and fathered children.  It is “a document for internal use” and was “not intended for publication”, according to Vatican spokesman Allesandro Gisotti.[4]  No surprise there: the Vatican would have preferred it if there had never been a need to admit to the existence of such a document.  But the scandal is now so huge that it was felt this was the best way forward to try to contain the fallout.  And of course, there was the inevitable spin put on the whole thing: “the fundamental principle behind these lines is the protection of the child,” Gisotti said.  Since when was the priesthood of Rome ever concerned with the welfare of children?  The international revelations of tens of thousands of priests having been found guilty of the sexual abuse of children is sufficient evidence that protecting children has never been the priesthood’s great priority.

Gisotti said, “the document ordinarily requires that the priest present a request for dispensation from the duties of the clerical state and, as a layman, assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively [to his child].”

For a more detailed explanation, Vatican News spoke with Romish cardinal, Beniamino Stella, the prefect of the Vatican’s “Congregation for the Clergy”, which has the responsibility of dealing with such cases.  He said, “A situation of this kind is considered ‘irreversible’ and requires the priest to abandon the clerical state even if he considers himself fit for ministry.”[5]  In other words, a priest who fathers a child is to cease functioning as a priest and to take up his responsibilities as a father.

Never Mind the Rules: What REALLY Happens to “Fathers” who Become Fathers

That is the “official” procedure.  But is it always followed?  Despite very large numbers of priests fathering children, it is almost unheard of for a priest to be removed from his priestly work so as to take up his parental responsibilities!  And in fact, when he was asked, “Are these rules applied always and everywhere?” the cardinal had to admit, “Sometimes it happens that bishops or religious superiors present the situation of priests who do not intend to ask for the dispensation, even when there are children, especially when the affective relationship with their mother has ended.  In such cases, there are, unfortunately, bishops and superiors who think that, after having provided economically for the children, or after having transferred the priest, the cleric could continue to exercise the ministry” (emphasis added).

Never mind what the rules say: priests who father children are very often (not “sometimes”) simply transferred elsewhere, where they continue to work as priests.  This transferring of problem priests is an age-old matter: ex-priest Charles Chiniquy was writing about it in the nineteenth century, it was common then, and has always been common.  Far easier to simply transfer a problem priest to where he is unknown, than to suffer shame and scandal.  It has happened countless times, when priests have affairs, or when they abuse children, or when they father a child.

“It is the Next Scandal.  There are Children Everywhere.”

The New York Times first reported on the Vatican guidelines for priests who father children.  One of those they interviewed was Vincent Doyle, an Irish psychotherapist who established “Coping International”, a support group for children of Roman Catholic priests worldwide.  Although psychotherapy is dangerous in itself, to be shunned by all true Christians, the point here is that the issue of the illegitimate children of priests is large enough for worldly people to feel that such a “support group” is needed.  Doyle put it very bluntly: “It is the next scandal [to hit the Roman Catholic priesthood].  There are kids [of priests] everywhere.”[6]

Doyle himself is the son of a priest in Ireland.  He only learned the truth when he was in his late 20s.  Sadly, he has remained a Roman Catholic, which goes to show the immense power of this religion over its people.  He said, “I’m doing this because I love Catholicism.  I just don’t like the fact that my faith is being used to keep the children of priests secret.”[7]

So just how widespread is the problem? 

It is worldwide.  And it always has been.  Untold numbers of children have been fathered by priests having affairs with nuns.  And untold numbers more have been fathered by priests having affairs with women outside of convents as well.

Examples from History of Priests who Fathered Illegitimate Children

Charles Chiniquy, who was for twenty-five years a priest of Rome in Canada and the United States in the nineteenth century, in his book, The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, exposed the sexual sins of priests.  He gives many examples of how priests commit all kinds of sexual sins.  And he mentions the children so often begotten by priests.

He tells of a young married woman in Canada who came to him in the confessional box, and confessed that, of her four children, three of them were fathered by her priest-confessor, not her husband.[8]  And he writes of another woman who confessed to him that she had had affairs with a number of priests, and that, just two days before her marriage, she conceived a child by her priest-confessor.  This was the only child she had, a girl, and she continued the affair with her priest as the years went by.  He also had affairs with many other women in that area.  But the time came when the young daughter went to confession herself, and the priest had sexual relations with her – his own child!  The young girl came to her mother and blurted out the truth.  The mother ordered the priest to leave or she would tell her husband that the child he thought was his, was really the priest’s; she then denounced the priest to his bishop, and warned him to get rid of the man.  Within eight days the bishop had transferred him to another place, where he continued having affairs with the women of that area, just as he had done previously.[9]

When Chiniquy visited Chicago in 1851, he learned that a priest there had fallen for a nun, the superior of the Convent of Lorette; and under the pretext of restoring her health she went to a city in the west, where she died while giving birth to the priest’s stillborn child.  When his bishop instituted an inquiry into the priest’s conduct, the priest poisoned the bishop, who died after a few days.[10]

Henrietta Carraciciolo, daughter of a governor of Italy and author of the book, Mysteries of the Neapolitan Convents, exposed the goings-on in Italy’s convents, which could be multiplied across the earth.  Among innumerable cases she gives is the following, which is all too common: a nun, “being somewhat infirm, her priest confessed her in her room.  After a time, the invalid penitent found herself in what is called an interesting situation, on which account, the physician declaring that her complaint was dropsy, she was sent away from the convent.”[11]

Maria Monk, who was a nun in Montreal, Canada in the nineteenth century, and whose autobiography, Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, fell like a thunderbolt on the “Church” of Rome of her day, pointed out that priests’ seminaries have so often been deliberately built in close proximity to nuns’ convents, and some have even been connected by underground passages; and nuns gave birth to the children of priests.  These poor babies were strangled, and often put into lime pits to dispose of the bodies.  She herself witnessed the murders of babies born to nuns, and her own baby, conceived by a priest, was murdered.  Her story was published after being carefully examined and clearly proven to be genuine.[12]

She was not the only ex-nun who told of the terrible goings-on in convents, and of babies born to nuns, fathered by priests.  Many other ex-nuns testified to it as well.  One was Margaret L. Shepherd, who at the age of 14 was sexually assaulted by a priest, gave birth to his baby, and was thrust into a convent with her baby.  While in that place she gave birth to two more babies, and they were both murdered there.  She related all in her autobiography, My Life in the Convent.[13]

Another woman, known when she was a nun as Mary Louise, who escaped the convent of Mt Angel in July 1913 in Silverton, Oregon, stated in an affidavit that many babies, fathered by priests, were born in convents to the nuns and murdered at birth, while others were sent to Roman Catholic orphanages.[14]

Examples from Modern Times of Priests who Fathered Illegitimate Children

Let no one think that these cases are limited only to long ago, or only to dalliances between priests and nuns.  Thousands of such cases have occurred in modern times as well.  Man’s nature does not change just because he lives in modern times, and priests are men with the same sinful natures as other men, yet forced into celibacy.  Here is just a sampling of cases that were reported on in more recent years.  They could be multiplied by innumerable others from around the world:

In January 1991 it was reported in Holland that at the diocesan seminary of Rolduc, a priest left the seminary just two days after he was ordained to marry a woman who was pregnant with his child.[15]

In May 1992 it was reported that a Roman Catholic bishop named Casey had had an affair with a woman seventeen years previously, and had fathered a child.[16]

A priest of the Capuchin Friars order, Martin de Leeuw, fathered a child in Auckland, New Zealand, the baby being born in 1991.  The priest then disappeared overseas.[17]

In June 1995, the bishop of the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Switzerland, Hansjoerg Vogel, announced his resignation because he had fathered a child after taking office the year before.[18]

And in December 1999 came the bombshell revelation that in Peru, it was estimated that 50% – 80% of all Roman Catholic priests in that county had wives and children, but hid them from public view![19]

In 2003 priests in South Africa admitted their sexual misconduct against nuns, which at times resulted in the nuns falling pregnant.[20]

In 2006 another case was reported, of an elderly priest fathering a child by a young woman.[21]

In June 2009 a Roman Catholic archbishop from the Central African Republic resigned, following an investigation into priests in his diocese who lived with women, sometimes quite openly, and fathered children.[22]

The situation, in fact, is so bad, that in July 2009 a Roman Catholic cardinal, John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya, president of the Kenya’s bishops’ conference, admitted it was very difficult for bishops to monitor the daily lives of priests to ensure they do not live with women.  He said, “It is a big challenge.”  He added that children fathered by priests must be cared for by their fathers, who must take responsibility for their actions.[23]

In the 1980s the lover of a Franciscan priest, Henry Willenborg, told him that she was pregnant.  He urged her to have an abortion.  She had a miscarriage but became pregnant again, and this time the superiors of Willenborg’s Order of Friars Minor, urged the woman to give the child up for adoption.  She refused, but she did agree to a vow of silence – a signed confidentiality contract.  She undertook to keep the priest’s identity secret in exchange for financial support for her son – $50 000.  She said, “They said: ‘Here, take this money, sign this contract and you’ll have support for your child.’  I was very naive and I signed.”[24]

Think of the lengths to which Rome will go to hide the evidence of priestly failures to uphold their vow of celibacy!  In the case of priest Willenborg, he had a lover, she falls pregnant, and he urges her to abort the child – contrary to official Roman Catholic teaching.  When his superiors learn of the second pregnancy, do they follow official Roman Catholic procedure as outlined above?  No – instead of ordering the priest to leave the priestly life, accept his responsibilities and be a father to the child, as required by their own “Church’s” rules, they tell the woman to give the child up for adoption.  And they get her to sign a contract of silence!

Willenborg was suspended from his parish in Ashland, Wisconsin, and “treated for sex addiction” (a psychological invention) – but thereafter he was returned to his priestly duties.

The woman spoke up in 2009, when the Franciscans refused to meet part of the cost of treatment for her son, who died of a brain tumor.

Was this just an isolated case of a priest and his bishops flaunting the rules of their own “Church”?  By no means.  “In America, Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Austria, women made pregnant by priests have signed such pledges in exchange for hush money from the church.”[25]  According to Sabine Bauer of the Austrian branch of We Are Church, a reform group, “The children of priests, and their mothers, are the next ones who will take legal action against the Church.  Their numbers are large”.[26]

According to the Good Tidings association, a U.S. charity for priests and their lovers (which gives an indication of how many there are!), almost 2000 women who had relationships with priests had contacted it by 2010. And in Britain at that same time, Adrianna Alsworth, who had two children by a priest and who ran the Sonflowers helpline for women who have had relationships with priests, said she knew of several women who had been urged to sign confidentiality contracts in return for child support.  “The children aren’t given an opportunity to have a normal family life, and they suffer,” she said.[27]

In Ireland, Pat Buckley, a former bishop who ran Bethany, a support group for women in relationships with priests, said he had dealt with two women whose abortions had been paid for by their priest lovers.[28]

Just a few more examples from 2010:

In Maryland, two children of priest Francis Ryan were suing their local archdiocese and a Romish religious order for $10 million, after DNA tests proved the priest was their father.  The two said that Ryan never admitted he was their father, nor did he ever make any payments to their mother.  The girl was sent to an orphanage and the boy was put up for adoption.  At the time of the lawsuit they were 58 and 65 years old respectively.

In German-speaking countries it was believed that there were literally thousands of priests who had fathered children.

In Italy, a woman who had a son by a priest was told by her bishop, “If you give up the baby for adoption, you can stay with the priest and I’ll pretend there’s nothing wrong.”  She refused, and after she parted ways with the priest he refused to recognise his child.[29]

Rome’s Popes Have Fathered Children Too!

Lest the reader think that the Roman popes, at least, have not been guilty of such things, the following will suffice:

“Do not the annals of the Church of Rome give us the history of that celebrated prostitute of Rome, Marozia, who lived in public concubinage with the Pope Sergius III, whom she raised to the so-called chair of St. Peter?  Had she not also, by that Pope a son, of whom she also made a pope after the death of his holy (?) Father, Pope Sergius?… The son whom Marozia had by Pope Sergius, was elected pope, by the influence of his mother, under the name of John XI, when not sixteen years old!…

“And what could we not say of Alexander VI?  That monster who lived in public incest with his two sisters and his own daughter Lucretia, from whom he got a child….

“Let not my readers be deceived by the idea that the popes of Rome in our days, are much better than those of the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries.  They are absolutely the same – the only difference is that, today, they take a little more care to conceal their secret orgies…

“Go to Italy, and there the Roman Catholics themselves will show you the two beautiful daughters whom… Pius IX had from two of his mistresses.”[30]

“Roman Catholics are wont to ridicule the plural marriage of the early Mormons.  They don’t know their own Church history.  The Bishop of Liége at one time had 65 children – not all from the same wife.  Cardinal Pier-Leone was elevated to the papacy (in a disputed election) in spite of his children by his own sister Tropea and the fact that he took his concubinage along when he travelled as a papal legate.”[31]

Of the pope, Alexander VI, in the fifteenth century: “Daniel, the historian, tells us that… ‘He formed an illicit connection with a widow who resided at Rome, and with her two daughters; and this was followed by an incestuous connection with her daughter, the infamous Venoza.  He afterwards formed another criminal connection with Lucretia, who was, in fact, his own daughter, wife and daughter-in-law, of whom he had a son; this son was therefore, his own son and grandson!’”[32]

Still more about Alexander VI, from a Roman Catholic historian: “His relations with Vanozza, a married woman, were probably well known to the cardinals before his elevation.  By her he had four children…. He also had other children by different women.”  And from another Roman Catholic historian: “Alexander VI had promised to keep his children out of Rome, but his paternal affection prevailed over his wisdom.  The ambitious schemes which he formed for his children’s advancement soon roused bitter feelings against him..”  Also: “Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, was allowed to exercise great influence at the papal court, and vast territories were bestowed on her.”[33]

Priestly Celibacy at the Root of the Problem

Plainly, at the very heart of the problem lies the diabolical doctrine of priestly celibacy: “forbidding to marry”.  But Rome refuses to admit this.  When Vatican News asked the cardinal, Stella, “How would you respond to those who maintain that the presence of children of priests is an argument for the introduction of optional celibacy for priests in the Latin church?” he replied: “The fact that some priests have experienced relationships and have brought children into the world does not affect the theme of priestly celibacy, which represents a precious gift for the Latin church, the ever-present value of which has been expressed by the recent popes, from St Paul VI to Pope Francis.  Similarly, cases of abandonment of the matrimonial union and from the children do not take away from the ever-present value of Christian marriage.”

Let us analyse his argument.  In the first place, compulsory priestly celibacy is specifically branded as a “doctrine of devils” by Paul the apostle in 1 Tim. 4:1-3.  For the Papal system, then, to call it “a precious gift for the Latin church” is to blatantly contradict the divinely inspired words of Scripture itself.  Who are we to believe, God the Holy Spirit (who “speaketh expressly” on this matter, we are told in 1 Tim. 4:1) or the popes of Rome?

In the second place, if it is such a “precious gift”, why is it only a supposed gift for “the Latin church”?  Bible Christians can answer this, of course: the so-called “Latin church” (Roman Catholicism) is not a true Christian church at all.  But in this ecumenical age, when Rome is doing its best to unite all “churches” to itself in one big, happy family with “papa” ruling over all, to argue that celibacy is a “precious gift”, and yet in the same breath to say that it is only for the “Latin church”, is really lame.  If it was really from the Lord, such a gift would be right for everyone!

In the third place, the cardinal lied when he said that “some priests have experienced relationships and have brought children into the world”.  The number is not small, it is huge

In the fourth place, the argument that “Similarly, cases of abandonment of the matrimonial union and from the children do not take away from the ever-present value of Christian marriage”, is in fact not a valid argument, since these are not similar.  Yes, some men abandon their wives and children, yet this does not alter the value of marriage; but to make a comparison between that, and men breaking their vow of celibacy, is to compare apples with oranges.  Voluntary marriage is ordained of God (1 Cor. 7:7-9,27-28,36), as is voluntary celibacy (Matt. 19:10-12; 1 Cor. 7:7); but compulsory celibacy is not – it is a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1-3).  Furthermore, the Bible says that one purpose of marriage is, precisely, to avoid fornication (1 Cor. 7:2,9); but no such purpose, nor any purpose at all in fact, is ever attached in Scripture to enforced celibacy.  And also, true ministers of the Gospel are free to marry if they wish, and Peter was one of them (1 Cor. 9:4,5); yet Rome’s priests are never free to marry, even though they (falsely) claim Peter as their first pope!

When husbands abandon their marriages, they sin against the commandment of God; but when Romish priests abandon enforced celibacy, they abandon a devil-inspired, man-enforced commandment.  Their sin lies not in abandoning priestly celibacy, but in fathering children out of wedlock.  They should indeed abandon the concept of enforced celibacy, but they should then enter into legitimate wedlock before fathering children.

What a devilish religion this is, which calls men “fathers” contrary to Scripture (Matt. 23:9), yet forbids them from becoming legitimate fathers in accordance with Scripture!

This scandal of priests fathering illegitimate children is going to be exposed more and more as the years go by.  It has occurred for centuries, but never before has it been so difficult to hush up than it is now.

June 2019

Shaun Willcock is a minister, author and researcher.  He runs Bible Based Ministries.  For other articles (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, pamphlets, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below.  If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ email list, to receive all future articles, please send your details.

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[1]. The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, by Charles Chiniquy.  Chick Publications, Chino, California.  This book is an unanswerable refutation and condemnation of auricular confession.

[2]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[3]., February 28, 2019.  Article: “Priests who Father a Child Must Put the Child First.”

[4]. The Christian Post, February 21, 2019. Article: “‘There are Kids Everywhere’; Vatican Confirms Church Guidelines for Priests who Father Children.”

[5]., February 28, 2019.

[6]. The Christian Post, February 21, 2019.

[7]. NPR Now, August 22, 2017.  Article: “Irish Bishops Advise Priests with Children How to ‘Face Up’ to Responsibilities.”

[8]. The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, pgs. 54-58.

[9]. The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, pgs. 77-79.

[10]The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, pg. 135.

[11]. As quoted in The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional.

[12]. Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, published by various publishers.

[13]. My Life in the Convent, by Margaret L. Shepherd.  Christian Truth and Victory Publications, Alexandria, Minnesota.

[14]. House of Death and Gate of Hell, by L.J. King, pg. 38.  Osterhus Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1947-1948.

[15]. The Southern Cross, 27 January 1991.

[16]. Sunday Times (South Africa), 10 May 1992.

[17]. The Rock, Vol. 48, No.2, April-May 1993.  Australian Protestant paper.

[18]. The Natal Witness, June 3, 1995.

[19]. The Natal Witness, December 24, 1999.

[20]. The Southern Cross, June 4 to 10, 2003.

[21]. Rome Watch International, Vol. 11, No. 2, March/April 2006.  Open-Bible Ministries, Northern Ireland.

[22]. The Southern Cross, June 3 to 9, 2009.

[23]. The Southern Cross, July 22 to 28, 2009.

[24]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[25]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[26]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[27]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[28]. Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[29]Times Online, April 18, 2010.

[30]. The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, pgs. 138-139.

[31]. Crime and Immorality in the Catholic Church, by Emmett McLoughlin, pgs.122-123.  Lyle Stuart, New York, 1962.

[32]. The Horrible Lives of the Popes of Rome, by Alexander Ratcliffe, pgs. 11-12. Published by A. Campbell, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

[33]. Quoted in The Horrible Lives of the Popes of Rome, pgs. 14-16.