Pope Francis on Friday made it compulsory in law to report the sexual abuse of children within the Vatican and in its diplomatic missions worldwide.
It is the first time a unified and detailed policy for the protection of children has been compiled for the Vatican and its embassies and universities outside the city-state.
The legal changes reflect a desire by the Pope to show that the Catholic Church is finally acting against clerical child abuse after decades of scandals around the world.
The changes make it obligatory for superiors and co-workers to report abuse allegations; punish failure to report with dismissal, fines or jail; and offer assistance to victims and families.
There are also provisions to protect vulnerable adults.
The law sets up procedures for reporting suspected abuse, imposes more screening of prospective employees, and sets strict guidelines for adult interaction with children and the use of social media.