Pope Francis lays down the law on child sex abuse on Vatican grounds
July 11, 2013 -- Updated 1937 GMT (0337 HKT)
Pope Francis on a recent trip to Lampedusa island in Italy on July 8, 2013.
- 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.
Part of complete coverage on
July 8, 2013 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
On the first pastoral visit of his papacy, Pope Francis shunned protocol and politics on a visit to the tiny island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily.
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?
April 8, 2013 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
A new pope may be a positive development in many ways. CNN's Jim Bittermann reports on the economic effect he brings.
April 6, 2013 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
Jake Tapper talks to Father Edward Beck about Pope Francis' vow to act against sex abuse within the Catholic Church.
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartment used by Benedict XVI and others before him.
March 31, 2013 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
Pope Francis leads his first Easter celebrations with a Mass marking Easter Sunday -- the holiest day in the Christian calendar.
April 2, 2013 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
A disabled boy in St. Peter's Square was lifted into the arms of the pope. His mother describes the beautiful moment.
March 23, 2013 -- Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT)
Pope Francis had lunch with predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI -- the first such encounter in history of the Roman Catholic Church.
March 17, 2013 -- Updated 0441 GMT (1241 HKT)
He's the first Jesuit and the first Latin American in modern times to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. But in some ways, he's just a normal guy.
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.
March 19, 2013 -- Updated 1855 GMT (0255 HKT)
It was with a call for the protection of the weakest in society that Francis was officially inaugurated as the Catholic Church's 266th pontiff.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 2013 GMT (0413 HKT)
While all eyes were on Rome for the election of a new pope, for Catholics, the importance of the event went beyond an impressive spectacle.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 0821 GMT (1621 HKT)
Click through our gallery to see photos of the celebrations after a new pope was announced.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
The election of a pope from Latin America shows the emerging influence of the region in the Catholic church and the world.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
One of the first questions many people ask when they start a new job is: What type of car will I get?
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Call him Pope Francis, the pontiff of firsts.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is known as a humble man, a capable administrator and -- as expected of a new pope -- a man of great faith.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1725 GMT (0125 HKT)
Catholic faithful from Latin America cheered the historic election of the first pope from the region Wednesday.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the new pope, is breaking historic ground by choosing the name Francis.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
St. Francis of Assisi, after whom Pope Francis has taken his name, captures the spirit of many Catholics.
Today's five most popular stories