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Pope will form new commission to coordinate sex-abuse response

Catholic World News - December 05, 2013

Pope Francis has decided to establish a Vatican commission for the protection of young people, in a new global response to the sex-abuse scandal.

The impetus for establishing the new commission came from the Council of Cardinals, during meetings in Rome this week. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a member of the Council of Cardinals, announced on December 5 that the Pontiff had agreed to set up the new commission in response to a recommendation from his advisory panel.

The new commission will be responsible for drafting guidelines for the prevention of abuse, developing training programs, advising on cooperation with law-enforcement officials, and promoting care for victims of abuse, in collaboration with experts on the subject. The panel will be composed of experts on sexual abuse and prevention. Pope Francis will issue a document setting forth the specific details of the commission’s work and appointing the first members.

In explaining the role of the new commission, Cardinal O’Malley said that the Church needs a strong pastoral response to the abuse scandal, to complement the existing juridical response. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been handling disciplinary cases involving priests accused of sexual abuse. The Vatican press office said that the new commission would move “decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI” by expanding the Vatican’s effort to address sexual abuse of young people.

In response to questions, Cardinal O’Malley said that he did not know whether the new commission would have any authority to address the role of bishops who cover up the sexual abuse of children.

The Council of Cardinals concluded series of meetings on December 5, having examined the congregations of the Roman Curia. The group is scheduled to meet again in February, in advance of the February 22 consistory at which Pope Francis will elevate new members of the College of Cardinals.

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