ROME—The Vatican on Tuesday unveiled an updated version of the Catholic Church’s penal code to reflect scandals over clerical sex abuse and financial corruption that have shaken the church in recent years, expanding the types of offenses as well as potential culprits and victims.
The new penal code broadens the categories of persons who can be punished for sex abuse to include laypeople and nuns, but doesn’t provide for the automatic defrocking of abusive priests as some campaigners have demanded.
Though mostly a collection of legislation established by popes over the past three decades, it places greater emphasis than the previous code, published in 1983, on the obligation to enforce penalties, stating that bishops are required to take punitive action when warnings or other measures are inadequate to do justice or reform the guilty.
In a decree instituting the revisions, Pope Francis wrote that charity and discipline are intimately related and that the proper remedy for immoral behavior “is not only exhortations or suggestions.”The revised code reclassifies the sexual abuse of minors by clergy among “crimes against the life, dignity and freedom of man,” rather than violations of the “special obligations” of clergy, as stated in the 1983 code.
ROME, Pope Francis