The Vatican published Tuesday major revisions to Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which covers penal law in the Church, including sanctions related to clerical sexual abuse.
Pope Francis introduced the changes with the apostolic constitution Pascite gregem Dei (“Tend the Flock of God”). He wrote that those who have committed a crime “need both mercy and correction on the part of the Church.”
The pope said that the revisions have improved “fundamental aspects of criminal law, such as the right of defense, the statute of limitations for criminal action, [and] a more precise determination of penalties.”
The reforms also introduced new crimes in the area of economic and financial matters to canon law and moved the canons concerning the crime of sexual abuse of minors and crimes of child pornography from the section on “crimes against special obligations” to that of “crimes against life, dignity, and freedom of the person,” as CNA reported last month.
Under the revised laws, lay people, including founders of lay religious movements and parish employees, can also be sanctioned for sexual abuse.
The Vatican initiated the reform to canon law because of concerns that some parts of the Church were failing to apply penal sanctions amid the burgeoning abuse crisis.
“In the past, much damage has been caused by the Church’s failure to perceive the intimate relationship between the exercise of charity and recourse — when circumstances and justice require it — to the discipline of punishment,” Pope Francis wrote in Pascite gregem Dei.
At a Vatican press conference, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican department that oversaw the changes, said that there had been misunderstandings about the relationship between justice and mercy in recent years.
This has “fed a climate of excessive laxity in the application of criminal law” in the Church, the archbishop said.
“The presence of some irregular situations within the communities, but above all the recent scandals, which have emerged from the disconcerting and very serious episodes of pedophilia, has, however, led to the need to reinvigorate canonical penal law, integrating it with precise legislative reforms,” Iannone explained.
Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, the secretary of the pontifical council, highlighted how the revised Code of Canon Law now includes crimes that have been typified in recent years in special laws, such as “the attempted ordination of women, recording of confessions, and sacrilegious consecration of the Eucharistic species.”
He said that new cases enumerated in the code also include the violation of papal secrecy; the omission of the obligation to execute a sentence or penal decree; the omission of the obligation to give notice of the commission of a crime; and the illegitimate abandonment of the ministry.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.
Well, well, the pope of mercy realizes justice and punishment have a place. I gotta say, when it matters, when it counts, the pope lands on the right side of the line.
Canon lawyers all over the world are praising this revision of the code.
By the way, everyone should know that Fr. George Rutler has been exonerated. The woman falsely accused him. If I were any man, I would have nothing to do with a woman like that. If she would set someone up falsely for whatever cause, she would do it to anyone.
Maybe exonerated of the crime of assault, but the video of him watching gay porn on his office computer has yet to be explained. Watching such stuff on a computer isn’t a crime, but it would render him unfit for public ministry again.
Anne TE– The way I saw it on the news, is that the young night guard caught Rutler viewing gay pornography on the office computer, right in front of her, and she made a video of it on her cell phone to show her boss. She was terrified! Next, he ran and grabbed her with his fist by the delicate chest and shoulder area, trying to block her terrified escape with the evil video! I think she was probably scared that as he was watching a sex video– he might try to rape her, and it was after midnight, and she was all alone, and terrified, on her first day of work! Rutler is unfit for the priesthood and should be laicized, and not permitted around churches and schools. You don’t want families and children– and young men!– around another dangerous, filthy gay-sex-crazed “Theodore McCarrick!” Watching pornography in a church office — or a school office, doctor’s office, etc.– is totally unacceptable! There should be a heavy penalty for that! Shame on him!
I wonder just what would I do, if I was very young, all alone, working in a church, at a “trustworthy” job, in a holy place, at night— my first job — and the pastor, whom I had thought to be a very fine, trustworthy, normal priest– suddenly casually sat down at his computer– and began watching filthy, obscene gay pornography? Right in front of God, Christ, the Blessed Mother– and “little me?” I cannot imagine such a horror. No respect at all. I think I would be shocked and crying for days, have trouble making sense of it, and might suddenly be fearful of a church, needing some counseling and loving protection and support from my family. Better go work and maybe earn some “college money,” at a “sane” place– like a busy, popular restaurant, or a business, as a secretary, or a store at the Mall– or even babysit. But not a job at a church. Something normal– with normal, decent, clean, trustworthy, “sane” people.
AB 1356 just passed the Calif. Assembly, and is now on its way to the Srnate. If it eventually becomes law, sidewalk counseling will be illegal outside of abortion clinics in California.
So– what plans does the Pope and the USCCB have, to fight for the lives of unborn children– and strongly discipline “bad Catholic” politicians?? Any hope??
Sorry, there is a typo in the fourth line of my post of June 3rd, at 7:32pm. It should read: “…and is now on its way to the Senate.”
They’ll just have to be more creative. Like fly a drone to intercept people going to the abortion clinic and drop a leaflet.
Cdl. Marx of Germany submitted his resignation to Pope Francis today, due to the problems of the clerical sex abuse crisis. Wonder how this will affect the agendas of the liberal German bishops and their synod??
Let’s see whom Pope Francis appoints to replace Marx(ist).
Marx did not offer to resign as a cardinal, nor as a member of Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinal Advisors, which is responsible for the reform of the Vatican constitution. Nor did he offer to resign as head of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy, according to a story in The Pillar.
Pope Francis has not yet accepted the resignation, the cardinal told the press today.
He wants to resign only as an archbishop. (That’s a lot of work, you know.) He still wants to work at the Vatican and vote for the next pope.
Well, Cdl. Marx turns age 70 in 2023, and will be age 75, in 2028. Don’t know if I will still be around– but he will at least have to submit his resignation, if re-assigned or kept in his current Archbishop post — in 2028. However, he still is working in various Vatican groups, as you mentioned, and can vote in Papal elections, until age 80. Hoping and praying the next generation of clerics will do better!
For a little more detail, it appears the Pope has reiterated the Church’s position on the ordination of woman. From The Pillar:
Pope Francis promulgated a revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which contains the penal law of the Latin Church. Included within its provisions is a new, far more explicitly outlined crime on the attempted ordination of women, in what could prove to be a pointed action directed at the Church in Germany.
The revised canon 1379 provides that “both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See,” and that the one who attempts to ordain a woman “may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.”
While this is not, strictly speaking, an innovation in the law, it makes explicit what was formerly only implied by a much broader canon, and closes the scope for a potential loophole in the language to be argued by someone attempting to confer ordination at any level on a woman.
(from The Pillar)