Crime and Punishment: Sweeping Changes to Church Law – Jimmy Akin

Tuesday the Holy See announced a major revision to the Code of Canon Law. The entirety of Book VI of the Code, which deals with how the Church punishes offenses against canon law, has been replaced. This marks the culmination of a project that has been underway for fourteen years. The revision was commissioned by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, and Pope Francis has announced that it will go into effect on December 8th. After it initially appeared in the 1983 Code, the original Book VI came to be seen as ineffective, and the revision is meant to tighten Church discipline, including how it handles cases of sexual abuse.   Reasons for Revision The revision was needed because the canons dealing with how offenses are punished—the Church’s penal law—had been drafted in the 1970s, when the uncertainty that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was at its peak. Both within the Church and in broader society, there was a shift away from historical sensibilities regarding the punishment of crimes, with new, looser standards being applied. Some even questioned whether the Church should retain a system of punishments in canon law.

Crime and Punishment: Sweeping Changes to Church Law – Jimmy Akin

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