Pope Formally Ends Secrecy Rules for Clergy Sex Crimes and Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis promised to end a long era of protecting sex offenders within the ranks of the clergy by introducing new laws today. Although Pope Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its “security, integrity and confidentiality.”, the Pope declared that “pontifical secrecy” will no longer apply to abuse related accusations, trials and decisions under the Catholic Church’s canon law.

The documentation associated to accusations of clergy sex crimes will not be made public but the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, said this reform removes any excuse not to co-operate with legal orders or requests from prosecutors, police and other civil authorities.

Pope Francis also adapted the rules concerning child pornography to include anyone up to 18 years old, instead of 14 years old. This news comes as a shock to many people around the world who were unaware that the Vatican was authorized to investigate their own sex crimes. Today Pope Francis also accepted the resignation of the Vatican’s ambassador to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, due to accusations of making unwanted sexual advances to young men.

From 1922 until present day the Vatican has insisted on making multiple agreements with various authorities and even Queen Elizabeth II, with instructions that sex crimes committed by clergy (including clergy accused of being pedophiles and zoophiles) are investigated by the Vatican, not by authorities.

The agreement titled Crimen Sollicitationis was in effect from 1962 to 2001, it gave specific instructions on how to carry out the rules in the Code of Canon Law, the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church to regulate its’ external organization and government, as well as to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church.

The new instructions do not oblige clergy to report the crimes to police unless civil reporting laws require them to do so where the crimes occur.