Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Pope tightens rules to tackle sex abuse and fraud by clerics
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued the most sweeping revision to Catholic church law in four decades, toughening regulations for clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults, commit fraud or ordain women.
The revision, which has been in the works since 2009, involves all of section six of the church’s code of canon law. It is the most extensive revision since the current code was approved by Pope John Paul in 1983.
The purpose of the revision, wrote Francis in introducing the changes, is “restoration of justice, the reform of the offender, and the repair of scandal”.
Since becoming pope in 2013, the Argentine pontiff has tried to tackle the decades-long sexual abuse scandals involving Catholic priests around the globe, although many activists against paedophilia insist much more needs to be done.
Sexual abuse of minors was put under a new section titled Offences Against Human Life, Dignity and Liberty, instead of the previously vague Crimes Against Special Obligations.
That section was expanded to include new crimes such as “grooming” minors or vulnerable adults for sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.
The most crucial changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse.
The law recognises that adults, too, can be victimised by priests who abuse their authority, and said that laypeople in church offices can be punished for abusing minors as well as adults.