Community Issues

Pope Francis Issues New Law Regarding Sexual Abuse Reports

Law requires all priests and nuns to report suspected abuse or coverups to church hierarchy.

The Vatican is taking new steps to hold abusive priests, and the hierarchy that has protected them, accountable.

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis has issued a new law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-up by their superiors to church authorities.

The law provides a uniform outline for investigating abuse claims and offers whistle-blower protections. Additionally it requires every diocese in the world to have a system for receiving anonymous complaints.

"People must know that bishops are at the service of the people," Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's longtime sex crimes prosecutor, told the AP. "They are not above the law, and if they do wrong, they must be reported."

Critics of the law say it does not go far enough, because it does not require the clergy to report suspected abuse to the police, but just to their superiors within the Catholic Church. But the Vatican claims that due to different legal systems in different countries, it is impossible to implement such a rule.

Last year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a grand jury report revealing more than 300 "predator priests" have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims, in accusations that dated back decades.

You can click here for more information on support and resources for victims of sexual abuse and assault.

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