Pope Francis launches commission to combat sex abuse
Announcement follows meeting with council of cardinals
Picture: AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte
- David Gibson for Religion News Service
- Vatican City
- December 6, 2013
Pope Francis is creating a special commission to deal with the clergy sexual abuse crisis on a global scale, a step that comes amid growing criticism that Francis had not given sufficient attention to the scandal.
Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley made the announcement on Thursday (Dec. 5) in the Vatican where he was meeting this week with Francis and the other members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” cardinals that the pope chose to help him reform the Roman Curia.
O’Malley, who is the U.S. bishop with perhaps the most credibility on the abuse issue, listed a range of programmatic ideas for the commission, whose members are expected to include lay people, mental health professionals and other experts in the field as well as leading churchmen.
But O’Malley acknowledged that Catholics were most keen to hear how and whether the pope and the new commission would tackle the question of disciplining bishops who have shielded abusive priests.
“Quite frankly that’s something that the church needs to address,” O’Malley said, noting that he wasn’t sure whether the commission, the Congregation for Bishops or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the Vatican department that has been handling most abuse cases — would take the lead on rogue bishops.
Several current cases in the U.S. have rekindled anger over the abuse crisis: last year in Missouri, Bishop Robert Finn was convicted in court of failing to report an abusive priest to authorities, and in Minnesota it was recently revealed that Archbishop John Nienstedt did not report priests suspected of abuse to authorities. Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., has faced similar criticism for his handling of abusers. All three men are outspoken conservatives, and all three remain in office.
Source: Religion News Service