(FOX 9) - Pope Francis has instituted new rules for reporting sexual abuse and cover-ups in the clergy.
The move comes as sex abuse and cover-up scandals have cost the church nearly billions of dollars in settlements and while the archdiocese says the new law is very affirming, a clergy sexual abuse attorney calls it the same kind of thinking that got church leaders where they are today.
“There are countries in the world where child sexual abuse is not a criminal offense,” said Susan Mulheron, the chancellor for canonical affairs. “There are countries in the world where child pornography is not criminalized.”
Underscoring the worldwide significance of the new church law Pope Francis signed against sexual abuse, representatives with the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis say the move reinforces measures already in place.
“I think it gives us here at the Archdiocese the green light to be very aggressive with what we’ve been wanting to do,” said Tim O’Malley, the director of ministerial standards.
The law requires Catholic priests and nuns across the globe to report all cases associated with sexual abuse to church authorities.
The law also protects anyone who reports church authority cover-ups.
“This proclamation is the very kind of practice that adheres to secrecy instead of transparency and as long as he and they are allowed to keep secret, the cover-up continues and kids are not safe,” said Jeffrey Anderson, a clergy sexual abuse lawyer.
Anderson worries that the law is nothing more than dangerous lip service because it doesn’t require clergy to report findings to police.
“Come clean with all the names, the tens of thousands of offenders he’s holding secret there at the Vatican archives and the histories only they know that are yet to be revealed to law enforcement and until that’s done, nothing’s changing,” Anderson said.
The new mandate will cover nearly 450,000 Catholic priests and 660,000 nuns across the globe.