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Sexual abuse: the Church will include in its law an article on “crimes against minors”



The evolution is eagerly awaited. And it becomes clearer over the months. The Catholic Church is on the verge of amending its code of canon law, which governs its internal law, to include a “Crime against the life, dignity and freedom of man”. An amendment detailed in a letter sent to the English and Welsh bishops on April 27 by officials of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

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The challenge of this addition: to create a real legal framework concerning sexual crimes against minors committed by priests, whereas they are today included in a part of the code of canon law devoted to non-respect for celibacy.

“Crime against the life, dignity and freedom of man”

In the revised version in preparation, “Crimes against minors are considered under a different title from that of crimes against celibacy obligations on the part of clerics”, we can thus read in the letter signed by Mgr Filippo Iannone and Mgr Juan Ignacio Arrieta, the two persons in charge of the Pontifical Council in charge of this reform of the code of canon law.

“The revised title will be“ Crimes against human life, dignity and freedom ”and will include a specific canon for crimes against minors”, they specify, in this letter posted on May 9 by the English and Welsh bishops. They also ensure that this part will include “A specific canon on crimes committed against minors”.

These two Vatican jurists were responding to a letter from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, in which the latter was concerned about the current form of Church law in matters of pedophilia. The current Code of Canon Law provides for the punishment of sexual abuse committed by priests against minors by virtue of non-compliance with the sixth commandment of the Bible ( “You will not commit adultery”).

However, Cardinal Nichols worried in his letter sent to the Vatican on March 15, this framework “Obsolete” “no longer adequate to meet the demands of a contemporary canonical approach to sexual offenses against minors and their legal equivalent”.

Facilitate collaboration with civil justice

He believed that the law of the Church in this area must demonstrate “At the least possible ambiguity”. According to him, one of the challenges of this clarity of canon law is to promote the collaboration of the Catholic Church with civil justice.

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“Given the seriousness of the matter at hand, it is important that the civil authorities are able to understand, in a clear and unambiguous manner, which acts are included in the canonical penal judgments”, he wrote. Before emphasizing: “Civilian systems do not individualize crimes using the Ten Commandments. “ So many arguments that seem to have been heard by Rome. According to information from The cross, the revision of the Vatican’s internal law in this area is ready and should be published very soon.

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