On June 1st, Pope Francis issued a revision to Church law which will explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority and say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.
Pope Francis altered the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law following 14 years of study. The most significant changes can be found in Articles 1395 and 1398 which target to address the church’s failure of handling sexual abuse. Article 1395 claims that a “cleric who by force, threats or abuse of his authority” forces someone “to perform or submit to sexual acts is to be punished” would be dismissed by the church.
Furthermore, Article 1398 discusses the church’s relationship with minors. The article states a cleric can be charged with “deprivation of office” if they “groom” or “induce” a minor or “expose himself or herself pornographically or take part in pornographic exhibitions.” Overall, Pope Francis’s changes aim to prevent bishops and other Catholic leaders from ignoring or covering up known instances of abuse.
However, this is not Pope Francis’s first time addressing decades of abuse and accusations of cover-ups by church leaders. When explaining the revisions, Pope Francis stated that it was to “reduce the number of cases in which the imposition of a penalty was left to the discretion of authorities.” Archbishop Filippo Iannone, head of the Vatican department that oversaw the project, said there had been “a climate of excessive slack in the interpretation of penal law.” The new revisions will be put into effect on December 8th.
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
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