Pope Francis on Saturday renewed a panel to investigate cases of sexual abuse by the clergy.
A cardinal from the United States, Sean O ‘Malley, was appointed the head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The 16-member international commission has representatives from the United States, Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, India, Italy, Tonga, Germany, Brazil, Poland, South Africa, the Philippines, and Zambia, as well as victims of sexual abuse.
The commission’s original three-year mandate expired in December, BBC reported. The Pope’s move to renew it comes weeks after he was criticised, during his trip to Chile in January, for defending a bishop accused of covering up crimes against minors. “There is not a single piece of proof against Bishop Juan Barros,” the Pope had said. “Everything is slander. Is this clear?”
Soon after, however, the Pope apologised, publicly sought forgiveness for the rape and molestation of children by priests in Chile and appointed the Church’s most experienced sexual abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, to look into the accusations that Barros had covered up crimes against minors.
On Saturday, Archbishop Scicluna met Juan Carlos Cruz, who said he was sexually abused when he was a teenager in Chile, Reuters reported.
The commission also plans to create a group of victims of sexual abuse, the International Survivor Advisory Panel, which will offer consultations on “abuse prevention from the survivor’s perspective”.