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Pope revises Church legislation, updates guidelines on sexual abuse



  • The revision entails all of part six of the Church’s Code of Canon Regulation.
  • Archbishop Filippo Iannone oversaw the venture.
  • It introduces new classes and clearer, extra particular language in an try to offer bishops much less wiggle room.

Pope Francis on Tuesday issued probably the most intensive revision to Catholic Church legislation in 4 a long time, insisting that bishops take motion towards clerics who abuse minors and weak adults, commit fraud or try and ordain girls.

The revision, which has been within the works since 2009, entails all of part six of the Church’s Code of Canon Regulation, a seven-book code of about 1 750 articles. It changed the code accepted by Pope John Paul II in 1983 and can take impact on 8 December.

The revised part, involving about 90 articles regarding crime and punishment, incorporates many current adjustments made to Church legislation by Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI.

It introduces new classes and clearer, extra particular language in an try to offer bishops much less wiggle room.

In a separate accompanying doc, the pope reminded bishops that they had been answerable for following the letter of the legislation.

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One intention of the revisions, Francis mentioned, was to “scale back the variety of instances through which the imposition of a penalty was left to the discretion of authorities”.

Archbishop Filippo Iannone, head of the Vatican division that oversaw the venture, mentioned there had been “a local weather of extreme slack within the interpretation of penal legislation,” the place some bishops generally put mercy earlier than justice.

Sexual abuse of minors was put below a brand new part titled “Offences In opposition to Human Life, Dignity and Liberty,” in comparison with the beforehand obscure “Crimes In opposition to Particular Obligations”.

The brand new part was expanded to incorporate crimes corresponding to “grooming” of minors or weak adults for sexual abuse and possessing youngster pornography.

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It contains the attainable defrocking of clerics who use “threats or abuse of his authority,” to power somebody to have sexual relations.

Final yr, an inner report discovered that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had abused his authority to power seminarians to sleep with him. He was defrocked in 2019 on costs of the sexual abuse of minors and adults.

Based on the brand new code, lay individuals in positions of accountability within the Church and located responsible of sexual abuse of minors or weak adults may be punished by the Church in addition to by civil authorities.

Whereas the Church has traditionally prohibited the ordination of girls and the ban has been re-affirmed by popes, the 1983 code says solely in one other part that priestly ordination was reserved for “a baptised male”.

The revised code particularly warns that each the one that makes an attempt to confer ordination on a girl and the girl herself incur automated excommunication and that the cleric dangers being defrocked.

Kate McElwee, govt director of the Ladies’s Ordination Convention, mentioned in a press release that whereas the place was not stunning, spelling it out within the new code was “a painful reminder of the Vatican’s patriarchal equipment and its far-reaching makes an attempt to subordinate girls”.

Reflecting the collection of monetary scandals which have hit the Church in latest a long time, different new entries within the code embody a number of on financial crimes, corresponding to embezzlement of Church funds or property or grave negligence of their administration.



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