Pope Francis Abolishes Rule That Protects Paedophiles In Catholic Church

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 18 Dec 2019 14:16
Pope Francis Abolishes Rule That Protects Paedophiles In Catholic ChurchPA

Pope Francis has abolished the use of the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases, responding to mounting criticism over the rule of ‘pontifical secrecy’. 

Many have argued the rule protected paedophiles, silenced victims, and prevented police from investigating crimes – but now this will no longer be the case.


In a new law, Pope Francis decreed information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its ‘security, integrity and confidentiality’. But he added the rule of ‘pontifical secrecy’ no longer applied to abuse-related accusations, trials and decisions under the Catholic Church’s canon law.

Pope Francis Abolishes Rule That Protects Paedophiles In Catholic ChurchPA

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni told QuickTake

Basically, it’s a step forward in terms of transparency. Transparency for the victims and their families, and transparency for judicial legal systems around the world, which can now request the documentation from the ongoing trials and bring it into their legal systems in order to facilitate their work.


In 2001, Pope Benedict XVI had decreed that sex abuse cases must be dealt with under ‘pontifical secrecy’, the highest form of secrecy in the church. Until now, the Vatican had long insisted such confidentiality was necessary to protect the privacy of the victim, the reputation of the accused and the integrity of the canonical process.

Pope Francis Abolishes Rule That Protects Paedophiles In Catholic ChurchPexels

In February this year, at the Vatican child abuse summit, the Pope described abusers as ‘tools of Satan’.

He said, via BBC News


We are thus facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere, and affecting everyone. Yet we have to be clear, that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the Church.

The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with mortal authority and ethical credibility.

Pope Francis Abolishes Rule That Protects Paedophiles In Catholic ChurchNiamh Shackleton

The new laws were issued on Tuesday, December 17, the 83rd birthday of the Pope, with many feeling the changes are a step in the right direction for the Catholic church – but that it still has a way to go.

Mattias Katsch, an abuse survivor and the founder of Ending Clergy Abuse told CNN:


Now it is important that further steps are taken towards transparency – also with regard to the thousands of acts of abuse cases stored in Vatican chambers and palaces. These files must be made available for independent review and investigation.

In addition, Pope Francis also raised the cutoff age below which the Vatican considers pornographic images to be child pornography from 14 to 18 – the possession of child pornography is a crime under Vatican law.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111.

Most Read StoriesMost Read


University Students Rally To Kick Out Kyle Rittenhouse After Murder Acquittal

Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Catholic Church, child abuse, Pope Francis, Religion, The Vatican


Telegraph and 3 others
  1. Telegraph

    Pope Francis scraps 'pontifical secret' rule used in clergy sex abuse cases

  2. CNN

    Pope lifts secrecy rules for sex abuse cases

  3. QuickTake by Bloomberg/Twitter


  4. BBC News

    Vatican child abuse summit: Abusers are 'tools of Satan'