Pope Francis delivered his promise to combat sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The improved canon law has extended punishment for sexual abuse to those who cover it up, as well as those who commit the crime.
Following the extensive revision to the Catholic Church’s canon law, the pontiff wanted to ensure that anybody who commits sexual abuse, either against a minor or an adult, does not avoid punishment and that attention is given to the victims. The revised document is specifically addressing those found guilty of sexual abuse, in a bid to improve the Holy See’s ability to combat and unroot the problem.
The changes will take effect on 8 December, the Vatican press office reports.
The changes incorporated into the new code concern crimes committed by either a member of the clergy or a layperson working in offices. New crimes have also entered the code such as grooming minors or vulnerable adults for sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.
“Offences Against Human Life, Dignity and Liberty”
According to the revised law, abuse of minors was previously an offence under the title “Offences Against Human Life, Dignity and Liberty”. According to Archbishop Filippo Iannone, chief of the department charged with the project, the legislator’s aim was to re-affirm the gravity of this crime and the attention that must be reserved for the victims.
Recent scandals with disconcerting and very serious episodes of paedophilia made the Church extend punishment for sexual abuse to those who cover it up, as well as those who commit the crime.
Archbishop Iannone reiterated as well there has been “a climate of excessive slack in the interpretation of penal law”, where mercy was sometimes put before justice.
He concluded by saying that justice requires that the order that has been violated be re-established, that victims be eventually compensated and that offenders be punished and pay for their crimes.