Pope Francis has updated Canon Law to criminalise sexual abuse

Pope Francis has updated Canon Law to criminalise sexual abuse:

Thanks to Pádraig McCarthy (§1 below) for the link to the text of the Revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law:



Links: Vatican News; National Catholic Reporter; BBC; RTÉ:





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  1. Colm Holmes says:

    Marie Collins with Pat Kenny today summarises this well:

    “It’s a very disappointing document,
    no zero tolerance,
    no mandatory reporting”.

    “The one that really sticks with me is, as far as where abusing a child is concerned, is it says that a priest can be removed from office, he can be laicised, where the case calls for it. Now that wording for me means that it will be left to a judgement call to the individual bishops, how they actually punish a priest, which means you don’t have any consistency or standard across the church”.

  2. From Pope Francis’s perspective these tinkerings may undermine the criticism that the church does not ‘get’ the distinction between a ‘sin’ and a ‘crime’ – but the basic reason for massive lay distrust of the canon law system remains. As the Irish experience proved beyond question it is a system that remains at the disposal of hierarchs with both pastoral and administrative responsibilities.

    We will wait until doomsday for the incompatibility of these functions to be realised. Meanwhile the secular separation of powers will remain for families the court of last resort, and distrust will continue to undermine relationships in the church – all because bishops have convinced themselves that they cannot risk relinquishing power.

  3. Michael J Miller says:

    No matter what the Pope does, the comments here are always pessimistic.

  4. Colm Holmes says:

    WE ARE CHURCH Press Release

    Very disappointing New Penal Code for Catholic Church

    5 June 2021 The Vatican’s newly announced Penal Code is very disappointing for several reasons:

    1. No Zero tolerance. Pope Francis spoke frequently in the past about a “zero tolerance” for clerical sexual abuse of children, but this has not been written into Canon Law.

    2. No Mandatory reporting. Reporting is only mandatory WITHIN the church, but not to external legal authorities.

    3. No consistent standard. Each bishop is free to determine if a case is serious or is a minor offence. There are no definitions setting out criteria for this. So there is no change.

    4. No understanding of sexual abuse of minors. These crimes are defined as breaches of the sixth commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery). What has committing adultery got to do with child abuse?

    And to top it all off the ordination of women is regarded as a “crime” as grave as raping children. This confirms that all the talk about honouring the dignity and equality of women is underscored by a deep misogyny. This will not change until women have full and equal representation at all levels of the church and the voice of the laity is heard and respected.

    Colm Holmes
    Chair, We Are Church International
    E colmholmes2020@gmail.com
    M +353 86 606 3636
    W http://www.we-are-church.org

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