Vatican widens law on child abuse crimes

The laws address child prostitution, sexual violence and sexual acts with children and child pornography.

Pope Francis waves his grandiose inauguration mass on March 19, 2013 at St Peter's square at the Vatican. Pope Francis swept into St Peter's Square on Tuesday to greet throngs of pilgrims before a sumptuous ceremony in which Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power. Picture: AFP.

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican unveiled changes to its law on Thursday that name the sexual abuse of children as a specific crime and aim to implement international anti-money laundering norms as the city state seeks to end years of scandal.

Under the changes, child prostitution, sexual violence and sexual acts with children and child pornography will be included in a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors, the Vatican said in a statement.

Issuing a "Motu Proprio", a decree of his own initiative, Pope Francis also said he wanted to renew the Holy See's commitment to international conventions against crimes such as money laundering and terrorism.

The reforms extend the criminal liability of officials and staff of the Roman Curia, making it possible to indict them even for crimes committed outside the Vatican city state.

Francis, who succeeded Pope Benedict in March, has inherited a Church struggling to restore credibility after a series of scandals including the sexual abuse of children by priests and a money-laundering investigation of the Vatican's bank.

He has appointed an advisory board of cardinals from around the world to reform the Curia and has opened a special commission of inquiry to reform the Vatican bank.