Pope Francis widens criminal punishment for child abuse in Vatican

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Pope Francis. AP FILE PHOTO

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday bolstered criminal legislation against child abuse in the Vatican in an overhaul of laws that apply to the clergy and lay people who work in the tiny city state.

The Vatican said in a statement that the pope’s decree included “a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors” including child prostitution, sexual acts with children and child pornography.

He also increased cooperation with other states against money laundering and terrorism in a continuation of reforms started by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, to get the Vatican in line with international legislation.

The new norms also increase criminal liability for people working in Vatican departments — a potentially radical change that would complement his plans to root out corruption from the scandal-ridden Vatican bureaucracy.

The laws will come into force on September 1.

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