Skip to main content

Vatican setting up commission against sexual abuse of minors

By Hada Messia, CNN
updated 11:31 AM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Pope Francis delivers a prayer from the window of his apartment at the Vatican on November 17.
Pope Francis delivers a prayer from the window of his apartment at the Vatican on November 17.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The commission's purpose is to prevent the abuse of minors and support victims of abuse
  • Commission members not yet chosen, will be international
  • The proposal came from the Council of Cardinal Advisers, helping Pope on reform

Rome (CNN) -- Pope Francis is creating a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley announced Thursday in Rome.

The new commission is expected to tell church officials to collaborate with civil authorities and report cases of abuse, O'Malley said.

But he also said that the church has focused on the judicial aspect of sexual abuse in the past, and that Pope Francis now wants to focus on the pastoral side, and caring for victims.

The Pope has not yet chosen the members of the new commission but it will be international in composition and include experts, O'Malley added.

A time for change?
Pope Francis slams market 'tyranny'
Meet the disfigured man the Pope kissed

The eight-member Council of Cardinal Advisers, which has been in Rome since Monday meeting with the Pope, proposed the special commission and the Pope accepted it, O'Malley said.

The cardinals, who come from around the world, are helping the Pope with Vatican reform.

The Vatican news service released a statement outlining the commission's lines of action, including a look at guidelines, priest "formation" programs, codes of conduct, and screening candidates for priesthood.

No timetable for the establishment of the panel was given.

Pope Francis calls for big changes in Roman Catholic Church

Awaiting Pope's response

Observers have been awaiting Pope Francis' response to a scandal that has generated deep mistrust in the church and driven many Catholics away from the faith, particularly in the United States.

At a meeting with Dutch bishops earlier this week, the Pope spoke of the victims.

"I want to express my compassion and to ensure my prayers to all victims of sexual abuse and their families," he said, according to the Vatican news service.

However SNAP -- the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- said the creation of "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

"Only decisive action helps, not more studies and committees and promises. ... Clergy sex crimes should be dealt with by secular authorities."

In July, Pope Francis announced a law making it a crime to abuse children sexually or physically on Vatican grounds.

The acts were already crimes under church law, but are now specifically outlawed within the Vatican city-state, which is home to hundreds of people.

The legislation also covers child prostitution and the creation or possession of child pornography.

ACLU, Michigan woman sue Catholic Bishops over hospital rules

CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:25 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Action needs to be taken immediately before affected states potentially collapse, says campaigner Bob Geldof.
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT