Google – AFP, 11 July 2013
Pope Francis leads a mass during a visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa,
on July 8, 2013 (AFP/File, Andreas Solaro)
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday bolstered criminal legislation against child abuse in the Vatican and increased criminal liability for employees of the tiny city state in a legislative overhaul.
The Vatican said in a statement that the pope's decree included "a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors" including child prostitution, sexual acts with children and child pornography.
The new laws are part of an introduction of forms of crime indicated in international conventions that the Vatican has already ratified including against racism and war crimes and on children's rights.
A Catholic churchgoer holds a cross
and rosary beads during a church
service (AFP/File, Peter Muhly)
"These were indeed punished, but as broader, more generic forms of criminal activity," it added.
Francis also increased cooperation with other states against money laundering and terrorism in a continuation of reforms begun by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to get the Vatican in line with international legislation.
The new norms also introduce the administrative responsibility of Vatican departments -- a potentially radical change that would complement his plans to root out corruption from the scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy.
The pope's reform "extends the reach of the legislation contained in these criminal laws to the members, officials and employees of the various bodies of the Roman Curia," the central body of the Catholic Church, Mamberti said.
View of St Peter Square in the Vatican,
on April 28, 2013 (AFP/File, Tiziana Fabi)
The laws will come into force on September 1.
The Vatican explained some of the provisions in its criminal code were "rather dated". Among the novelties is that life imprisonment will be outlawed and replaced with a maximum sentence of 35 years.
There was also a direct consequence of the "Vatileaks" scandal last year when Benedict's butler Paolo Gabriele published confidential documents from Vatican offices alleging widespread corruption and mismanagement.
Punishment will be increased for anyone stealing secret papers.