New Vatican Commission on Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis accepted a proposal to set up a special commission on the sexual abuse of children that will advise him on ways to prevent abuse and provide pastoral care for victims and their families. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, O.F.M.Cap., of Boston, a member of the pope’s advisory Council of Cardinals, announced the decision at a Vatican briefing for reporters on Dec. 5. The cardinal said the new commission would “study the present programs in place for the protection of children” and “come up with suggestions for new initiatives” by the Vatican, in collaboration with national bishops’ conferences and religious orders around the world. Cardinal O’Malley said the Vatican’s focus so far had been on legal procedures and that the new body would represent a more pastoral approach. The cardinal said the commission would study a number of areas, including programs to educate pastoral workers in signs of abuse, psychological testing and other ways of screening candidates for the priesthood and the church’s “cooperation with the civil authorities, the reporting of crimes.”

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