(NewsHill.org)- Pope Francis has recently written a “motu proprio,” a document written explicitly by the pope on his own accord, that included updates to laws addressing abuse in the Catholic Church, according to The Daily Wire. The document comes after the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report that examined the abuse of children within the church and the coverup by senior officials and The Vatican.
Pope Francis first created an “experimental” set of legal guidelines for the issue to include reporting bishops. But critics said that the guidelines did not do nearly enough and instead called for “zero tolerance” of clerics who have been accused.
Michael J. Mazza, a civil lawyer, commended the new laws and their protections for the reputations of those accused, noting that there is respect for the presumption of innocence. He said that although the names of the accused are published for transparency reasons, they often harm those who are found innocent.
Such was the case in 2018, when Cardinal George Pell of Australia faced allegations of abuse. He maintained his innocence but was reportedly barraged by anti-Catholic media and police who admitted to having investigated him without cause. Shortly after, he left his position as the Prefect of the Secretariat for Economy which he was appointed to by Pope Francis.
Ironically, the cardinal had instituted a commission to investigate accusations of clerical abuse before facing accusations of his own.
The pope is prioritizing civil law over canon law when it comes to dealing with these accusations when reporting, investigating, trying, and convicting, but Mazza points out that this can be a problem, especially when civil law could be biased against the church. He said that the real effects are going to be seen in the coming months and years and whether the laws will be followed as written or not.