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Pope Francis forms committee to combat child abuse in the Catholic Church

In this image made from video provided by CTV, Pope Francis, center, celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013.
In this image made from video provided by CTV, Pope Francis, center, celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals, inside the Sistine Chapel, at the Vatican, Thursday, March 14, 2013.
Associated Press

Pope Francis is taking a break from the public arena and forming a panel of experts aimed to fight abuse of children in the Catholic Church and to aid victims, according to BBC News.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, announced the panel's creation on Wednesday. He said the committee would place more rules and regulations on the clergy, church officials and incoming priests, BBC reported.

"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, according to BBC. "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."

O’Malley announcing the committee is noteworthy, as Boston “was the epicenter of the 2002 clerical sexual abuse scandal in the U.S.,” according to the Associated Press.

Not everyone is happy with the committee’s creation, though. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said "another commission surveying bishops and recommending policies is meaningless. … It's like offering a Band-Aid to an advanced cancer patient," SNAP said in a statement.

Another statement by SNAP said Pope Francis “has been a breath of fresh air to many. But he’s a breath of stale air to wounded victims, vulnerable children, and betrayed Catholics.”

The announcement comes a day after the United Nations published written responses from the Vatican that denied the U.N. access to information on abuse cases, Time reported.

The Vatican said “it is not the practice of the Holy See to disclose information on the religious discipline of members of the clergy or religious according to canon law” and that they’re withholding information “in order to protect the witnesses, the accused and the integrity of the church process,” according to Time.

Meanwhile in Minnesota, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis "identified 30 priests accused of sexually abusing minors in the archdiocese, which has been under fire for its past handling of clergy abuse cases in its part of Minnesota," according to Reuters.

In a statement, Archbishop John Nienstedt said he and his staff are "completely committed to combating the problem of sexual abuse and doing all we can to ensure that these horrors are never repeated in the church.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner