The President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has welcomed the Holy Father’s recent amendments to the Code of Canon Law.
On June 1st Pope Francis promulgated the apostolic constitution Pascite gregem Dei, “Shepherd God’s flock.” Dated 23 May 2021, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the new Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, contains regulations on criminal sanctions in the Latin Catholic Church.
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap writes: “The reform of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law is a significant and welcome step forward for the whole Church. In the apostolic constitution “Pascite gregem Dei” and in the revised canons, Pope Francis has provided important principles and norms for the safeguarding of all persons, with particular attention to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable persons.
The provisions for mandatory reporting of suspected crimes, the involvement of the laity in penal processes, and the accountability of bishops and Church leaders for these processes are, for example, essential elements to achieving Pope Francis’ stated goal of a new “way of thinking” that leads to the faithful “observance of the Church’s law” (Pascite gregem Dei). The sexual abuse of minors is now properly recognized first of all as a “offense against human life and dignity” and the new canons provide the means for addressing cases in which a bishop or other leader abuses his or her office or power in order to commit a canonical crime.
Our Commission gratefully receives these documents, which are clearly in continuity with Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela and Vos estis lux mundi, and looks forward to studying them together and to offering our advice to the Holy Father for their effective implementation.”
The new norms will come into force on 8 December, 2021, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.