Pope Francis imposes harsher laws for abuse in the Church

 | 
01/06/2021
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The Vatican has heavily revised the penal section of its Code of Canon Law. 

It had been unchanged since 1983, and gave great leeway to bishops as the judges of their dioceses. Yet the abuse crisis made clear that the time had come to specify penalties and reparations for particular crimes committed in the Church.

The change will take effect Dec. 8 and recognize new types of offenses regarding abuse and financial management.

ABP. FILIPPO IANNONE
President, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
'The new penal code introduces new criminal offenses and configures other offenses that are already recognized by applying different penalties to them. New financial offenses have also been added.'

BP. JUAN IGNACIO ARRIETA
Secretary, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
'The issue now is that we want to make these changes operational, determining what the offense is and the duty of each person to act.'

The reform:

Mandates the reporting of an offense when made aware of it. (can. 1371 § 6)

Recognizes crimes related to economic mismanagement and corruption (can. 1377 and can. 1378)

Extends canonical penalties for offenses such as abuse or corruption to lay people holding Church office (can. 1398 § 2)

And, 

Reclassifies abuse offenses from a violation of celibacy to an “Offense against human life, dignity, and liberty”

In total, more than 70% of the Church's penal code has been modified.

The reform lasted almost twelve years, and began with Benedict XVI in 2009.

Since then, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has brought together experts and episcopal conferences to develop these newly announced reforms.

Javier Romero

TR: JM

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