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Pope toughens penalties for those who abuse minors

The Vatican has radically updated the penal section of its Code of Canon Law. 

The latest version was from 1983 and gave the bishop great room for maneuver, as judge of the diocese. But crises such as the abuse crisis showed that it was necessary to specify the penalties for each crime and include reparation. 

The reform will enter into force on December 8 and recognizes new crimes in terms of abuse and economic management.

President, Pontifical Council Legislative Texts
“New crimes were introduced and existing ones were updated, even punishing them with different types of punishment. In addition, it includes new crimes in economic-financial matters ”.

Secretary, Pontifical Council Legislative Texts
“The novelty is to make the law operational, better pointing out the punishable cases and the duty of each one to act.”


– It obliges to report the crimes of which one has knowledge (can. 1371 § 6)

Add crimes related to economic mismanagement or corruption (can. 1377 and can. 1378)  

Lay people in charge of the Church may be sanctioned from the canonical point of view, for example for abuses or financial mismanagement (can. 1398 § 2)

The abuses go from being “Crimes against special obligations” and become “Crimes against the life, dignity and freedom of persons”

In total, more than 70% of Book VI of the criminal articles has been modified. 

The reform has lasted almost twelve years. It was started by Benedict XVI in 2009.

Since then, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has brought together experts and episcopal conferences to finalize the result with these new articles.

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