Pope Francis sets up Vatican child sex abuse committee
- 5 December 2013
- From the section Europe
Pope Francis is to set up a Vatican committee to fight sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church and offer help to victims.
The announcement, by the archbishop of Boston, follows a meeting between the Pope and his eight cardinal advisers.
It comes days after the Vatican refused a UN request for information on alleged abuse by priests, nuns or monks.
One of the main Italian associations of clerical abuse survivors has said it has "little trust" in the Vatican.
Pope Francis has said dealing with sex abuse is vital for the Church's credibility.
Earlier this week the Pope expressed his compassion for the many victims of sex abuse by priests around the world.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said the proposed panel of experts could provide codes of conduct for clergymen, guidelines for Church officials and better checks for would-be priests.
"Up until now there has been so much focus on the judicial parts of this but the pastoral part is very, very important. The Holy Father is concerned about that," he said.
"We feel that having the advantage of a commission of experts who will be able to study these issues and bring concrete recommendations for the Holy Father and the Holy See will be very important."
He added that the move was in line with the approach of the former Pope, Benedict XVI, who referred to the "filth" in the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict was, however, accused of failing to do enough to address the problem.
The Commission will keep the Pope informed about programmes in place for the protection of children, will formulate suggestions for new initiatives, the Vatican said in a statement.
The archdiocese of Boston was the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal involving Catholic priests in the US in 2002. It ultimately led to the resignation of the archbishop at the time.
The Catholic Church has faced a raft of allegations of child sex abuse by priests around the world and criticism over inadequate responses by bishops.
Earlier this year the Pope strengthened Vatican laws on child abuse, broadening the definition of crimes against minors to include sexual abuse of children.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child put a wide-ranging questionnaire to the Holy See - the city state's diplomatic entity - last July, asking for detailed information about the particulars of all sexual abuse cases notified to the Vatican since 1995.
The Vatican refused, saying the cases were the responsibility of the judicial systems of countries where abuse took place.
Vatican officials are due to be questioned about child abuse, among other issues, by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in January.