Pope Francis really laying down the law on child abuse for real this time.

Pope Francis has made a decree: sexually abusing children on Vatican grounds is illegal:

Pope Francis has laid down a law making it a crime to abuse children sexually or physically on Vatican grounds, the Holy See announced Thursday.

The acts were already crimes under church law, but are now specifically outlawed within the Vatican city-state, which is home to hundreds of people.

The legislation also covers child prostitution and the creation or possession of child pornography.

Yes, even though it was already illegal, now it’s Pope illegal.  For the priests guilty of raping children (the ones who have been caught and the ones of which the public is unaware), while they weren’t dissuaded by their conscience or the existing laws, they will surely cease when the pope reiterates the laws.

David Clohessy says the obvious: the problem isn’t lack of laws or who is announcing those laws, it’s a lack of enforcement of the already existing laws.

“For the Vatican’s image, this is a successful move. For children’s safety, this is another setback … because it will help foster the false impression of reform and will lead to more complacency,” said SNAP director David Clohessy in a written statement. “The church hierarchy doesn’t need new rules on abuse. It needs to follow long-established secular laws on abuse. And it needs to push for, not oppose, real reforms to archaic, predator-friendly secular laws (like the statute of limitations).”

I’m all for the church no longer paying off child-raping priests, or shuffling them to new parishes.  I’m all for the church turning child rapists over to law enforcement, their PR be damned, like any morally responsible human being would do.  I’d love to see these things, which is why I’d rather hear the pope say “If you so much as rub a child’s thigh, you will be expunged from the church immediately and handed over to the police.”

If nothing else, the Vatican should do it just to watch atheist blogs like mine praise them for once.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.