SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, new church laws take effect on Dec. 8 criminalizing the sexual abuse of adults by priests and other clergy members.
This comes after Pope Francis announced the changes in June, aimed at addressing shortcomings in the Church's handling of sexual abuse cases. The law recognizes that adults too may be victimized by priests who abuse their authority, while further providing accountability among Bishops who know about but don’t report sexual abuse.
Dorothy Small, 67, said she was abused by a priest as an adult in Woodland, California in 2014. Small is now a member of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which advocates for sexual abuse survivors.
“Vulnerability knows no age limit,” Small said. “And we are susceptible to positions of power and authority.”
She and others with SNAP are calling for revisions and additions to the list of clergy people accused within the Sacramento Diocese which was published in 2019. Members of SNAP say there are more than 30 others who have been accused and should be placed on the list.
At the time, Sacramento Diocese Bishop Jaime Soto apologized for the Church's role in the sexual abuse of children and cover-up.
Officials with the Sacramento Diocese did not return our requests for comment Wednesday.