Pope Francis delivers his Angelus reflection from the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on March 26, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Apr 5, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday revised parts of the penal law of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The changes follow the 2021 reform of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which covers penal law in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church.

The April 5 motu proprio on the law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Vocare Peccatores, takes effect June 29. It was issued in Latin without translations.

“Call sinners into repentance; […] those who are healthy do not need a doctor, but those who are sick (cf Luke 5:31-32), is the mission of our Lord Jesus, which he himself handed over to the pastors of his people,” Pope Francis wrote in the document’s introduction.

“In the Church the purposes of punishment are the restoration of justice, the correction of the matter, and the reparation of the offense and damage,” he said.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, told Vatican News “the new norms determine much more clearly when ecclesiastical authority must intervene in the case of crimes.”

“They are more precise and the penalties that must be imposed are also clearer, better determined,” Arrieta added. “In addition, the Eastern discipline has also been harmonized with the Latin discipline in so many aspects, such as the abuse of minors and the protection of the sacraments.”

A total of 23 canons were modified, many of them with the addition of new paragraphs. Canons 1443 and 1449 were replaced in their entirety.

Pope Francis wrote that “the pastors, therefore, reveal their concern when they see to it that the portion of God’s people entrusted to them is preserved within the ways of the Lord; when, out of fraternal correction, admonition, or other appropriate means, they endeavor to correct the behavior of the faithful Christians who err; and finally they use canonical punishments where offenses have been committed.”

“When the pastor acts in this way to avoid crimes and to properly punish the guilty,” he continued, “he shows that he is aware of his duty to love the faithful committed to him.”

“Punishment is primarily the remedy for his healing” for the Christian who has committed an offense, the pope said.

The following canons of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches have been changed and/or added to: 1402, 1406, 1407, 1409, 1410, 1414, 1416, 1424, 1429, 1430, 1436, 1442, 1443, 1446, 1449, 1453, 1456, 1459, 1463, 1464, 1466, 1467, and 1152.