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Pope revises Church law, updates rules on sex abuse

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Pope Francis on Tuesday (June 1) issued the most extensive revision to Catholic Church law in four decades.

The rules insist that bishops take action against clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults, commit fraud or attempt to ordain women.

The revision involves all of section six of the Church's Code of Canon Law

And covers about 90 articles concerning crime and punishment.

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, quote, "reduce the number of cases in which the imposition of a penalty was left to the discretion of authorities."

The new section was expanded to include crimes such as grooming of minors or vulnerable adults for sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.

It includes the possible defrocking of clerics who use abuse their power to force someone to have sexual relations.

Last year, an internal report found that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had abused his authority to force seminarians to sleep with him.

He was defrocked in 2019 on charges of the sexual abuse of minors and adults.

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