Pope toughens Vatican laws against sexual abuse of minors

Pope francis

Pope francis

The Pope Francisco has reformed Book VI of the Code of Canon Law on penal sanctions in the Catholic Church) and has established that the child abuse are crimes against the dignity of people, the Vatican reported on Tuesday. This is one of the seven books that make up the Code of Canon Law and its modification will enter effective as of December 8.

"In order to respond adequately to the demands of the (Catholic) Church throughout the world, it was evident the need to also review the penal discipline promulgated by Saint John Paul II, on January 25, 1983, with the Code of Canon Law," he explained. the pontiff. The revision work began in 2007 with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and concludes now, with a text that "introduces changes of various kinds in current law and sanctions some new criminal figures", in the words of Francisco.

It has also been improved "from a technical point of view, especially with regard to fundamental aspects of criminal law, such as the right of defense, the prescription of criminal action, a more precise determination of penalties." Now offered "objective criteria in identifying the most appropriate penalty to apply in the specific case", reducing the discretion of the authority, to favor ecclesial unity in the application of penalties," especially for crimes that cause greater damage and scandal in the community, "adds the pontiff.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Filippo Iannone, explained that the presence in the communities of some irregular situations and the recent scandals, derived from the cases of pederasty, have led to the revitalization of canonical criminal law, integrating it with timely legislative reforms.

The crimes typified in recent years in special laws are incorporated into the Code, such as the attempted ordination of women, the registration of confessions and the Eucharistic consecration for sacrilegious purposes. Also some cases present in the 1917 Codex that were not accepted in 1983, such as corruption in official acts, the administration of sacraments to subjects to whom they cannot be administered, the concealment from the legitimate authority of any irregularity or censorship in the reception of holy orders. To all of them, some new cases are added, such as the violation of the papal secret, the omission of the obligation to execute a sentence or criminal decree or the omission of the obligation to notify the commission of a crime.

The text contains an adequate determination of the criminal laws that did not exist before, in order to give a precise and sure indication to those who must apply them. The crimes are better specified, those that were previously grouped are distinguished, sanctions are exhaustively listed, and benchmarks are detailed throughout to guide the evaluations of those who have to judge the specific circumstances.

The approved modification seeks protect the community and pay greater attention to repairing the scandal and compensation for damages, but also have the necessary means to prevent crimes, and be able to intervene in time to correct situations that could worsen, according to the Vatican. The possibility of applying the penalty of suspension to all the faithful has been established, and not only to clerics, and the statute of limitations for crimes has also been changed, in order to favor the conclusion of the processes in a reasonable time short.


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