Pope Francis makes sweeping changes to Catholic Church laws in 40 years
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued the biggest amendment to the Catholic Church's laws in nearly 40 years, toughening penalties for clergy who harass minors and vulnerable adults, and for embezzlers or those seeking ordination for women.
The amendment, which has been in the works since 2009, includes the entire sixth section of the canon law, which includes about 1,750 articles and is located in seven volumes. It replaces the law established by Pope John Paul II in 1983, which will come into force on the 8th of December.
The revised section includes about 90 articles dealing with crimes and punishments, and it incorporates many of the existing amendments introduced by Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis said one of the goals of the amendment was to "reduce the number of cases in which it is left to the discretion of the authorities."
Sexual harassment of minors has been placed under a new section entitled (Offenses to Human Life, Dignity and Liberty) instead of the previous vague heading (Crimes related to private obligations).
The legal articles punish clerics for harassing minors, for example, but also if they obtain and distribute “pornographic pictures” of minors or children and take such pictures.
The amended law warns those seeking to ordain a woman, as well as the woman herself, of the possibility of automatic excommunication, and the cleric also warns of the possibility of being stripped of his position.
Reflecting the series of financial scandals that the church has witnessed in recent decades, new provisions in the law include several financial crimes, such as embezzlement of church funds or property or gross negligence in its management.
(Prepared by Lubna Sabry for the Arabic Bulletin - Edited by Amal Abu Al-Saud)
Agencies - Vatican City