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article imagePope Francis broadens laws on child abuse, Vatican leaks

By Abdul Kuddus     Jul 11, 2013 in World
Rometta - Pope Francis made a move Thursday to end years of alleged sex scandals damaging the Catholic Church, criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing child abuse, prostitution and pornography as punishable crimes.
After taking over from Pope Benedict in March, Francis inherited a Church struggling to repair its credibility following a string of scandals related to molestation of children by priests in some countries and an investigation into suspected money-laundering at the Vatican's bank.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
“The bulk of the Vatican's penal code is based on the 1889 Italian code. Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state's legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Under the changes, child prostitution, sexual violence, sexual acts with children and indecent images of children will be included in a broader definition of the category of "crimes against minors", the BBC reported.
The decree covers clergy and common people who live and work in Vatican City and is different from the canon law, which covers the universal Catholic Church.
Although the legal changes would apply only within the Vatican City state, the move is a message that Francis is taking the scandals seriously and aims to align Church policy with international legal standards, according to reports.
Francis's decree also includes stricter rules on the disclosure of secret information and specifies imprisonment of up to eight years if they concern the "fundamental interests" of the Holy See, or Church government.
Last year, the "Vatileaks" scandal rocked the Vatican in which Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted for stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media.
Gabriele reportedly wanted to expose the “evil and corruption” that plagued the Holy See. He was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in the Vatican's police barracks. Benedict later pardoned him.
The papal decree comes after the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child asked the Vatican Wednesday to disclose details of thousands of cases of child abuse committed by members of the clergy.
Pope Francis also said United Nations conventions on transnational organized crime, illegal drug trafficking and terrorism financing would be implemented in the new setup.
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