Pope Francis had changed church law to better combat abuse. The Pope receives support for this step from the canon lawyer Thomas Schuller from Munster, Germany. A new criminal offense had been created: Cover-up.
Thomas Schuller, an ecclesiastical law expert from Munster, praises the tightened canon law norms for the fight against sexual abuse. The corresponding papal letter "Vos estis lux mundi" (You are the light of the world) is "a clear progress and a really good law," Schuller said in Munster on Wednesday. He made the remarks at a symposium on Pope Francis' pontificate hosted by the Universities of Munster and Opole on Wednesday and Thursday.
Obligation to report acts of abuse
With the letter published at the beginning of May, Francis had provided "legally gratifying concretions" and – as he had done several times before – "powerfully and energetically exhausted his jurisdictional primacy," Schuller said. For example, he introduced the new criminal offense of "cover-up" and a worldwide obligation to report and report abuse.
Confessional secrecy remains taboo
But the canon lawyer declared confessional secrecy "absolutely taboo". "That's where it has to stay, because otherwise we're betraying the sacrament," Schuller said. If a confessor determines that there is a potential danger to the life and limb of children, he must urge the confessor to go to the appropriate state authorities. Otherwise, he could ask him to repeat what was told outside of confession.