Pope Francis announced Thursday morning a sweeping new law that will make it easier for whistleblower priests and nuns to report their bosses for sexual abuse or coverups. The law gives unprecedented power to the Catholic Church’s 415,000 priests and 660,000 religious sisters who, until now, could not go directly to the Vatican with complaints about their supervising bishops, cardinals, or superior nuns. The motu proprio, or papal decree, is effective immediately and gives anyone within the church who has “well-founded motives to believe that a cleric or sister has engaged in sexual abuse of a minor, sexual misconduct with an adult, or is in possession of child pornography” the mandate to report them. The law does not, however, require anyone with knowledge of abuse or its coverup to report the offense to police or law-enforcement officials.
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