Papal commission on sex abuse to push for accountability

Sat May 3, 2014 12:18pm EDT
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A commission advising Pope Francis on the sexual abuse crisis will recommend that negligent clerics be held accountable regardless of their rank in the Church, Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley said on Saturday.

In many cases of abuse, most of which took place decades ago but surfaced in the past 15 years, bishops seeking to protect the Church's reputation moved priests from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or handing them over to police.

The commission, made up of four men and four women from eight countries including an Irish woman who was a victim of abuse, met for the first time since its formation in March, holding talks with the pope and Vatican officials.

"We see ensuring accountability in the Church as especially important," the commission said in a statement.

O'Malley, known as a pioneer for a more open and forceful approach to tackling the scandal since he published a database of Boston clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors online in 2011, said a person's rank in the Church should not be cause for special treatment or protection.

"Our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with superiors in the Church who have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children," he told reporters.

Victims' groups have pressed the Vatican to hold bishops who either shielded abusers or were negligent in protecting children to account, along with abusers themselves.

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Pope Francis talks with children during a special audience with members of the "Catholic Action" in Paul VI hall at the Vatican May 3, 2014.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile