(TheIndependentStar.com) – The Catholic Church has its own in-house legal system, the Vatican’s Code of Canon which serves as its governing legislation. Officials within the Vatican have been actively reviewing these laws for nearly 14 years now as the church battled repeated scandals and sought to improve its global reputation. This review culminated in the June 1, 2021 release of a revised set of provisions.
Largely prompted by the sexual abuse scandals that rocked the church, the new guidelines include significant steps to help the church better handle future allegations.
The New Changes
Pope Francis’s new changes make the abuse of adults by priests a crime. They also extend sexual abuse laws to include the abuse of authority by laypeople holding church office. Other revisions address the grooming of children for future abuse. The new laws also made it a crime for priests to involve vulnerable minors or adults in pornography.
The Church’s new regulations are quite important; they make it more difficult to cover up harmful situations while also enabling the church to hold persons in a position of power responsible for their actions. They also essentially remove discretion from the table, giving clear direction on reporting and handling abuse allegations.
The new legal wording also recognizes that children aren’t the only ones vulnerable to the clergy. The church acknowledged that adults can face abuse at the hands of someone within the church who holds a position of power over them, specifically addressing abuse issues involving nuns and priests.
The addition of the grooming law is the first recognition by the church of activities that often lead to abusive situations. These changes are step in the right direction toward protection for those most vulnerable within the religious organization.
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