Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the Catholic world and president of the Vatican, amended the law on the Catholic Church to explicitly criminalize sexual abuse by the clergy of minors and vulnerable adults.
The new provisions, determined after 14 years of work in the Vatican, have been added to the revised section of the Criminal Code of the Code of the Catholic Church.
The most significant changes that fill the gaps in the Church’s fight against sexual abuse have been included in Articles 1395 and 1398.
The new provisions recognize that adults can also be victims of abuse by the clergy, and members of the religious service can be punished for exploiting adults as well as minors.
It is the most important revision of the Law of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983.
Pope Francis, in a decision he made in 2019, announced that he had removed “papal secrecy,” which kept the matter confidential in child sexual abuse cases involving Church members .
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GERMANY HARASSMENT REPORT
In March of this year, an expert report was prepared for the first time on allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the Catholic Church in Germany since the 1970s. In the report, it was stated that the Archbishop of Hamburg Stefan Hesse, Deputy Archbishop of Cologne Dominikus Schwaderlapp and former Deputy Bishop of Cologne Norbert Feldhoff had failed to fulfill their obligations to investigate the allegations.
However, in the report, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who died in 2017, was most blamed for obstructing the clarification of charges. Presenting the expert report, Björn Gercke noted that Meisner had been determined to have failed to perform his duties in 24 sexual abuse investigations. It was noted that Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki had not been convicted of charges of sexual abuse. Gercke stressed that the report deals with allegations of sexual abuse in the church from the perspective of lawyers, but that the incident should also be evaluated from the perspective of theology and the historian.
800 PAGES REPORT
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The expert panel investigated allegations of sexual harassment, rape, and abuse within the church between 1975 and 2018. The report examined accusations of sexual harassment against 202 church officials. The names of the first-time defendants were clearly mentioned in the nearly 800-page report. It was said that 63 percent of the accused were priests.
It was noted in the report that 314 children and adolescents were victims. It was reported that 32 percent of the charges were sexual harassment and 15 percent were rape. Introducing the report, Gercke said in the remaining charges he was on the verge of action that could constitute a crime in legal terms. During the preparation of the expert report, Gercke also criticized the fact that the archdiocese did not present the files correctly. Gercke said they felt some files had not been delivered to them or had been returned incompletely.