Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on combatting sex abuse in the clergy, it was announced Thursday.
The move would help protect children from pedophiles and better screen would-be priests, according to the Vatican. But it was dismissed as a “public relations stunt” by a leading victim advocacy group, who added that it would do little to shield young people from predatory priests.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, announced the creation of the commission Thursday at the conclusion of a meeting between Francis and his eight cardinal advisers in Vatican City who are helping him govern the church and reform the Vatican bureaucracy. Boston was the epicenter of the 2002 clerical sexual abuse scandal in the U.S.
O’Malley told reporters that the commission, made up of international lay and religious experts on sex abuse, would study current programs to protect children, better screen priests, train church personnel and suggest new initiatives to implement inside the Vatican and around the world.