Pope lifts secrecy rules for sex abuse cases

Pope Francis celebrates a holy mass as part of the 23rd World Day for Consecrated Life on February 2, 2019 at St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has lifted Vatican secrecy rules governing sexual abuse cases, the Vatican announced on Tuesday.

The move will allow the Catholic Church to hand over documents related to sexual abuse cases to civil authorities. Branches of the church do that in many countries already, but the practice is not universal.

Abolishing what’s called “pontifical secrecy” will also allow victims to be informed of the outcome of their cases at the Vatican.

The pope’s special declaration, called a Rescript, does not change the privacy rules around reporting sexual abuse or Vatican trials of alleged abusers.

The declaration comes on Pope Francis’ 83rd birthday.

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