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Pope Francis is taking further steps to fight corruption in the Vatican by ordering all bishops and cardinals to be tried if they commit criminal acts. This is the second time in two days that the pope has worked to hold senior church officials accountable for his actions.
Under a law released Friday, Vatican-based high prelates working in the Holy See will be tried by a lay court that also hears criminal cases. They will no longer be granted special judicial treatment by a body composed of high-ranking members of the clergy, known as the Court of Cassation.
The measure comes eight years after the pope’s calls to reform the Vatican. Just three days after his election in 2013, Francis made clear his vision of what the Catholic Church should be like: “Oh, how I would love a poor church … for the poor.”
In the preface to Friday’s decree, the pope said civil law should be without privileges, “which go back in time and are not in line” with individual responsibilities in the Vatican. Prosecutors and judges will only need the consent of the pope to continue the investigation.
“… Today it is necessary to proceed with some further changes in the judiciary of the Vatican City State, also to ensure that everyone has a solution formulated in several stages and in line with the dynamics followed by the most advanced legal experience at the international level, “Francis wrote in an apostolic letter.
The move follows the revocation of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu’s privileges from the pope last year. Becciu, a senior Vatican official, was accused of nepotism and embezzlement, accusations he denied.
On Thursday, the pope banned Vatican officials from accepting gifts worth more than 40 euros (about $ 48). Under the new rule, cardinals and managers must disclose their investments to make sure they are in line with church doctrine.