Pope Francis on Tuesday issued the most extensive revision to Catholic Church law in four decades, insisting that bishops take action against clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults, commit fraud or attempt to ordain women.
The revision, which has been in the works since 2009, involves all of section six of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, a seven-book code of about 1,750 articles. It replaced the code approved by Pope John Paul II in 1983 and will take effect on Dec. 8.
The revised section, involving about 90 articles concerning crime and punishment, incorporates many existing changes made to Church law by Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI.
It introduces new categories and clearer, more specific language in an attempt to give bishops less wiggle room.
In a separate accompanying document, the pope reminded bishops that they were responsible for following the letter of the law.
One aim of the revisions, Francis said, was to “reduce the number of cases in which the imposition of a penalty was left to the discretion of authorities”.