Skip to main content

Pope Francis lays down the law on child sex abuse on Vatican grounds

From Hada Messia, CNN
July 11, 2013 -- Updated 1937 GMT (0337 HKT)
Pope Francis on a recent trip to Lampedusa island in Italy on July 8, 2013.
Pope Francis on a recent trip to Lampedusa island in Italy on July 8, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Abuse victims advocacy group dismisses the law as a "feel good gesture"
  • Any form of child pornography is also forbidden under pope's new initiative
  • The new laws include other measures to ensure humane behavior by church officials
  • They are part of an update to the Vatican's legal system started by Pope Benedict XVI

Rome (CNN) -- Pope Francis has laid down a law making it a crime to abuse children sexually or physically on Vatican grounds, the Holy See announced Thursday.

The acts were already crimes under church law, but are now specifically outlawed within the Vatican city-state, which is home to hundreds of people.

The legislation also covers child prostitution and the creation or possession of child pornography.

But it has a "broader scope," according to Radio Vatican.

Pope's first trip shuns pageantry

It adds provisions of international laws against war crimes, racial discrimination and humiliating treatment or punishment to the Vatican's legal system.

It includes wording from the Geneva Conventions.

Francis issued the new laws as a "moto proprio," meaning that the document was his own initiative, Vatican Radio said.

The new criminal laws are part of an ongoing update of the Vatican's legal system, which began under Pope Benedict XVI.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a U.S. advocacy group for victims of abuse by priests and other clergy, dismissed the law as "a feel good gesture."

"For the Vatican's image, this is a successful move. For children's safety, this is another setback ... because it will help foster the false impression of reform and will lead to more complacency," said SNAP director David Clohessy in a written statement. "The church hierarchy doesn't need new rules on abuse. It needs to follow long-established secular laws on abuse. And it needs to push for, not oppose, real reforms to archaic, predator-friendly secular laws (like the statute of limitations)."

In April: Pope tells Vatican to 'act decisively' sex abuse cases

CNN's Hada Messia reported from Rome; Ben Brumfield wrote in Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 0239 GMT (1039 HKT)
According to widely cited Italian media reports, Pope Francis recently told a young boy grieving the loss of a pet dog that "paradise is open to all God's creatures."
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 1659 GMT (0059 HKT)
Pope Francis said that modern slavery is a "crime against humanity" and is "unfortunately becoming worse and worse every day."
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Pope Francis is to make his first trip to the United States as the head of the Catholic Church next September.
A Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," Pope Francis said.
June 20, 2014 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
No topic has been off limits for Pope Francis so far.
June 14, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
Pope Francis prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile because it is a glass "sardine can" that walls him off from people.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace with Pope Francis.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 1846 GMT (0246 HKT)
As the Holy Land prepares for a papal visit, Ivan Watson speaks to the man preparing to honor the pontiff with his food.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Not a jot of doctrine has changed in the year since Francis became Pope. But there's more than one way to measure his impact.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in a ceremony in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica -- the first such appointments since he was elected pontiff.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
"The spring evening in which Pope Francis was elected is an apt symbol of the beginning of his papacy and the years that will follow," writes a priest.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
In a gesture towards Valentine's Day, Pope Francis gave his advice on how to have a happy marriage before thousands of couples.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
Take a look at Pope Francis' first year in photos with our gallery.
November 7, 2013 -- Updated 2343 GMT (0743 HKT)
It was the embrace that melted hearts worldwide.
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis kisses and hugs disabled boy lifted up in the crowd.
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
With the new pope himself a trained scientist, could the timing could be right for a new era of cooperation between the Vatican and science?
March 16, 2013 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Pope Francis is being painted as a humble and simple man, but his past is tinged with controversy.
ADVERTISEMENT