Vatican strengthens canon law on penalties over abuse

Revisions and reforms

The Vatican is working to revise a section of the Code of Canon Law to make clerical sexual abuse procedures clearer and more effective, said the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, reports the Catholic News Service.

'We want to make this delicate material more accessible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,' Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, Council President, told the Vatican newspaper.

In the interview published yesterday in L'Osservatore Romano, the Cardinal said his office has been working since 2008 to revise Book VI: Sanctions in the Church, a section of the Code of Canon Law.

The penalties and punishments offered by Church law should be applied, he said. 'In the face of a negative action, which harms the good of a person and therefore the good of the Church, penal law expects a reaction, that is the pastor inflicting a canonical penalty,' the Cardinal said.

If a bishop does not react by imposing a punishment on a priest guilty of the crime of sexual abuse, he said, 'in some way that would be, or would seem to be, consenting to the evil committed. A negative act necessarily must be condemned; it requires a reaction.'

At the same time, he said, the bishop must recognise that the infliction of a penalty is ultimately for the good of the abuser as well. Penalties in canon law are designed to 'encourage the conversion of those who commit crimes.'

FULL STORY Vatican revising canon law on abuse penalties, cardinal says (CNS)

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