Pope Francis abolishes pontifical

OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished. Kieran Tapsell

OPINION: Pontifical secret Tapsell.

Title: OPINION: Pontifical secret allows abuse to go unpunished

Author: Kieran Tapsell

Publication: Newcastle Herald

Date: 09JUN2014

THE Catholic Church for some 1500years recognised that simply stripping a priest of his status as a priest was not a sufficient punishment for the sexual abuse of children. 

Canon law from the 12th century decreed that he should be dismissed from the priesthood and handed over to the civil authority for punishment in accordance with the civil law. 

A commission set up by Pope Pius X in 1904 drafted a uniform code of canon law by discarding papal and council decrees that were no longer relevant, modifying others and creating new ones. 

The 1917 Code of Canon Law discarded the decrees requiring priests who sexually assaulted children to be handed over to the civil authorities.

In 1962, Pope St. John XXIII reissued Crimen Sollicitationis. In 1974, Pope Paul VI, by his decree, Secreta Continere renamed ‘‘the secret of the Holy Office’’ ‘‘the pontifical secret’’, and it continued to apply to the sexual abuse of children under the new 1983 Code of Canon Law.

In 2001, Pope St. John Paul II confirmed the pontifical secret under some new procedures, and in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI expanded its reach by applying it to allegations of priests having sex with intellectually disabled people. In 2010, the Holy See allowed a restricted form of reporting to the civil authorities but only where the civil law required it. 

In most parts of the world, and in every state of Australia, apart from NSW, there is no such requirement to report in the vast majority of cases. The pontifical secret still applies where there are no such reporting laws.

For more information visit: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/2340393/opinion-pontifical-secret-allows-abuse-to-go-unpunished/

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