Sunday 21 January 2018

Bishops 'must cooperate with probe'

The Pope has said the maximum steps must be taken to ensure children are protected
The Pope has said the maximum steps must be taken to ensure children are protected

Pope Francis has urged bishops and religious superiors to cooperate with his sex abuse commission.

The Pope is seeking to give the committee a boost as it meets for the first time on Friday with its full membership.

In a letter, Francis said the commission is an important new way to encourage the church's commitment to taking "whatever steps are necessary" to ensure children are protected.

He wrote: "Priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors."

The commission has been slow in getting off the ground. Announced in December 2013, it saw its final members added 12 months later.

The commission still has no statutes, but members have divided themselves into working groups focusing on areas such as reaching out to abuse survivors, holding bishops accountable and keeping paedophiles out of the priesthood.

Francis formed the commission after initially facing criticism that he had largely ignored the clerical sex abuse scandal that had so tarnished the papacies of his two predecessors.

The aim is to come up with best practices for dioceses and religious orders to implement.

It followed several other initiatives to ensure that bishops' conferences around the globe were really tackling the issue, including the 2011 request from the Vatican for bishops to develop national guidelines to prevent abuse.

In his letter, Francis said "every effort" must be made to implement those guidelines, review them periodically and ensure they are being observed.

He said the sex abuse commission is designed to provide them with help to do so, including with education and training schemes.

Press Association

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