The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis has signed off on a major rewrite of Catholic Church law that would update its penal system and lay out clearer penalties for sex abuse offenders.
The change marks the most significant rewrite of canon law in four decades. Francis said the law aims to be clearer and simpler and to reduce the number of incidents of abuse by church authorities.
The new laws state priests or other figures who abuse minors or other vulnerable people be punished with "deprivation from office" or possibly defrocking, according to The Washington Post.
The rewrite of the law comes after decades of sex abuse scandals that have rocked the church.
The church also formally criminalized the grooming of minors for participation in pornography and allowed lay people in positions of power to face punishment.