Pope abolishes ‘pontifical secret’ in clergy sex abuse cases, raises cutoff age considered for child pornography

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass for the Philippine community of Rome, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis has abolished the “pontifical secret” used in clergy sexual abuse cases.

He issued a new law after facing mounting criticism that the high degree of confidentiality covering abuse cases has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and keep law enforcement from investigating the crimes.

Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected to ensure its “security, integrity and confidentiality.” But he said the “pontifical secret” no longer applies.

He also raised from 14 to 18 the cutoff age below which the Vatican considers pornographic images to be child pornography.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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