Pope Francis expands Catholic Church sexual abuse law to cover lay leaders
(CNN) — Pope Francis has updated a 2019 church law governing clerical sexual abuse and extended it to include accountability for Catholic lay leaders of Vatican-approved religious organizations.
Lay leaders are people other than clergy members who are on the professional rosters of the church.
The norms were first defined by Francis in an Apostolic letter, Vos estis lux mundi, in 2019 and were originally mandated for a four-year period.
Francis has now made minor changes to that document and made it permanent, effective April 30, according to a document released by the Vatican on Saturday.
For decades the Catholic Church has been plagued by a series of sex abuse scandals in countries around the world.
The new norms represent Pope Francis’ pledge to offer “concrete measures” to combat sexual abuse.
One of the changes includes provisions for holding lay leaders of Vatican-approved associations accountable for cover-ups of sexual abuse. The norms previously only related to bishops and religious superiors.
Another change involves the definition of abuse victims, which previously referred to “minors and vulnerable persons.”
The updated document now specifies “a minor, or with a person who habitually has an imperfect use of reason, or with a vulnerable adult.”