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Pope extends sexual abuse law to include lay leaders

The pope issued a landmark order in 2019 requiring priests and religious order members to report any suspicions of abuse. Any abuse or coverup are also directly attributable to bishops.

These provisions were initially introduced temporarily. However, the Vatican announced Saturday that they will be made final beginning April 30th. They will also include additional elements to support the Church’s fight for abuse.

Many abuse scandals have damaged the reputation of the Vatican in several countries. Pope Francis has taken many measures in the past 10 years to hold Church hierarchy accountable. This has been a major challenge.

Critics claim the results were mixed, and accuse Francis not being willing to dress abusive popes.


After numerous accusations against clergy and lay leaders, the new norms now includes leaders of Vatican-sanctioned organisations that are run by laypeople.

The original rules covered sexual acts against minors and vulnerable persons. The new rules define victims in a much more detailed manner. It covers crimes committed by a minor or someone who uses imperfect or habitual reason.

The Vatican states that Church members must report violence against religious women perpetrated by clergy or harassment by adult seminarians and novices.

Advertisement, a not-for-profit organisation looking to document the abuses within the Roman Catholic Church, said the revision was “a big disappointment” and fell short of the “extensive revamping” the policy against the abuses would have required.

The policy “remains self-policing packaged as accountability”, said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, adding bishops remained in charge of investigating allegations against fellow bishops.

These new provisions were made public a month after Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order, stated that allegationsof sex and psychological abuse against one of its most prominent members was highly credible.

Twenty-five people, many of them former nuns have accused Father Marko IIvan Rupnik (69) of various forms of abuse. He was either a spiritual leader in Slovenia about 30 years back, or he went to Rome to become an artist.

Rupnik has not spoken publicly about the allegations that shake the global order to which the pope is a part.

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