Pope lifts secrecy rules for sex abuse cases

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, Photo Date: 1/16/2015
Originally Published: 17 DEC 19 06:57 ET
Updated: 17 DEC 19 07:24 ET

(CNN) --The Pope has lifted secrecy rules for sex abuse cases.

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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