The Catholic Church has seen its fair share of abuse scandals and accusations, especially over the last few years. In an effort to curb this, Pope Francis has announced changes to try to protect the victims and punish anyone involved.
On Friday, Pope Francis announced sweeping legislation changes to protect children from sexual abuse within the Vatican, Vatican City, Rome, and worldwide. The Pope had been demanding overhauls by Catholic Churches worldwide to properly deal with child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy, Reuters reports.
Previously, cases had been dealt with on an ad hoc basis, depending on legal provisions within the area. But various abuse accusations in countries including Ireland, Chile, Australia, Poland, France, and the United States, have caused massive damage to the Catholic Church's credibility and reputation, forced the Church to close parishes, and pay billions in damages to victims.
Just this month, Cardinal George Pell was sent to prison for six years after abusing boys in Australia. Pell had previously served at the Vatican as a treasurer and member of Pope Francis' closest council of Cardinals.
There have also been accusations that several high-ranking members of the Church have worked to cover up accusations of abuse. Earlier this year, the archbishop of Lyon in France was convicted for failing to report abuse to the authorities.
The changes made by Pope Francis will now require superiors and co-workers to report abuse accusations and punish those who fail to report and offer proper assistance to the victims and their families. The law will also require a Vatican official or employee convicted of child abuse to be dismissed, sets up new reporting procedures for suspects, and will impose tougher screenings in hiring.
These laws will also apply to Vatican diplomatic missions, which have also been subject to abuse accusations.
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