Pope Francis tightens sentences for priests guilty of sexually abusing children. Criminal law within the Catholic Church has also become stricter for several other offences.
They are the most drastic changes in almost forty years.
The Catholic Church has been working on amendments to the so-called Codex of Canon Law since 2009. Critics argue that this code is outdated and not transparent. The new version, which will come into effect from December 8, states, among other things, that priests will be removed from office after sexual abuse of minors and will also face “other just punishments”.
This also applies to priests who are guilty of grooming children or vulnerable adults. Grooming occurs when a perpetrator tries to gain the trust of another to abuse this person sexually.
The spiritual leader of the Catholic Church hopes the reforms will reduce the number of sentences imposed by the courts. “The new text incorporates several amendments to the current law and penalizes many new offences, responding to the growing need to restore justice and order following a crime.”
The church has been repeatedly criticized for covering up child abuse and failing to take accusations seriously. Pope Francis has been striving to tackle the sexual abuse scandals since taking office in 2013. Although he has already taken several measures, some victims believe the Vatican is not doing enough to protect children.