July 12, 2013
Pope Francis has announced stricter laws governing sexual abuse of children in Vatican City.
Punishments of up to 12 years in prison have been set for abuses regarding sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography.
The new law focuses on clergy and lay people who work and live in Vatican City.
Current incarnations of the penal code in Vatican City are based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child .
Pope Francis’ new law give a broader definition of sexual crimes against children; mentioning the sale of children, child prostitution, recruiting children, sexual violence, preforming sexual acts with children; as well as the production and possession of child pornography.
According to the original penal code, these crimes mentioned would carry only a 3 – 10 year punishment. The new revisions extend the time imprisoned to 5 – 10 years with aggravated assaults being brought to the maximum of 12 year in prison.
The Holy See was directed to give the UN a detailed report, answering allegations and a questionnaire regarding sexual crimes against children and predatory priests.
The UN document sent to the Holy See was entitled, “List of Issues to be Taken Up in Connection with the Consideration of the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See” and detailed concerns the UN have about how children are being abused.
Requests for information included: “please indicate whether the Holy See still label children born outside wedlock as ‘illegitimate children’ and whether it has assessed the consequences of the use of such terminology on the rights of these children.”
Other demands made by the UN are for recordings concerning sensitive history of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and other members of the Catholic clergy.
The UN is calling for proof that punitive actions have been taken against the priests.
The UN stated: “In light of the recognition by the Holy See of sexual violence against children committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns in numerous countries around the world, and given the scale of the abuses, please provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns brought to the attention of the Holy See over the reporting period.”
Some estimation finds that 95% of victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergymen are adult women.
Massimo DeGregori, priest for the Holy See’s diplomatic corps claims that: “While we don’t deny the gravity (of child sex abuse), someone is trying to take advantage of the U.N. committee procedure.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) “is a self-help group that supports people who have been victimized by clergy, and helps them try to pick up the pieces of their lives, heal and move forward. We also cooperate with news media and provide reliable information when we can, as a way to help ourselves recover and prevent future abuse.”
SNAP states that “some men and women do not survive childhood sexual abuse. While every victim’s experience is tragic, the stories of those who commit suicide as a result of abuse are among the most heart wrenching.”
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has spent large sums of money on lawyers to “protect itself than to care for those who suffered at the hands of abusive priests.”
Peter Isley of SNAP commented on how the AoM claimed 1st Amendment rights during negligence lawsuits, saying: [Milwaukee victims] were raped and sexually assaulted by a priest, unlike anywhere else in the country, they could not exercise their civil rights and file their case in court.”