Very disappointing New Penal Code for Catholic Church 

5 June 2021  The Vatican’s newly announced Penal Code is very disappointing for several reasons:

1.   No Zero tolerance. Pope Francis spoke frequently in the past about a “zero tolerance” for clerical sexual abuse of children, but this has not been written into Canon Law.

2.   No Mandatory reporting. Reporting is only mandatory WITHIN the church, but not to external legal authorities. 

3.   No consistent standard. Each bishop is free to determine if a case is serious or is a minor offence. There are no definitions setting out criteria for this. So there is no change.

4.   No understanding of sexual abuse of minors. These crimes are defined as breaches of the sixth commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery). What has committing adultery got to do with child abuse?

And to top it all off the ordination of women is regarded as a “crime” as grave as raping children. This confirms that all the talk about honouring the dignity and equality of women is underscored by a deep misogyny. This will not change until women have full and equal representation at all levels of the church and the voice of the laity is heard and respected.

Colm Holmes                                                 

Chair, We Are Church International                     


M  +353 86 606 3636                                             



We Are Church International (WAC) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.