2 June 2021
In May 2012 in a leaks scandal, known as Vati-Leaks, many confidential internal confidential documents were published by the news media. Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book entitled “His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI”, consisting of confidential letters and memos between Pope Benedict and his personal secretary, a controversial book that portrays the Vatican as a hotbed of jealousy, intrigue and underhanded factional fighting.
Since 2009 there has been sporadic reports of irregularities in the church. Since then Vatican has been working on a revision of the Catholic Church law to prevent corruption among priests. Over the past decades the Church has been making several piece meal reforms.
The present revision will replace the code approved by Pope John Paul II in 1983 and will take effect on 8 December 2021. The new code involving about 90 articles concerning crime and punishment, incorporates many existing changes made to Church law by Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis said that the aim of the new code was to reduce the number of cases in which the imposition of a penalty was left to the discretion of authorities. A new section titled “Offences Against Human Life, Dignity and Liberty,” deals with sexual abuse of minors.
The revised code prohibits the ordination of women. If a person attempts to ordain a women, he will be defrocked and the woman will be excommunicated. This is viewed by some quarters as subordination of women’s rights.
As a result of a series of financial scandals, the code provides punishment for economic crimes, such as embezzlement of Church funds or property or grave negligence in the administration of the properties..
In a separate accompanying document, the pope reminded bishops that they were responsible for following the letter of the law.
Last year, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked in 2019 on charges of sexual abuse of minors and adults.