VATICAN CITY: Pope Francisrevived his lapsed sex abuse advisory commission by naming new members yesterday, after coming under fire for his overall handling of the scandal and his support for a Chilean bishop accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.
The announcement of the new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors came on the same day that a Vatican investigator will take the testimony in New York of one of the main whistleblowers in the Chilean cover-up scandal.
Francis tasked Archbishop Charles Scicluna with the fact-finding mission into Bishop Juan Barros after he came under blistering criticism in Chile for defending Barros and calling the victims’ cover-up accusations against him slander.
The initial three-year mandate of commission members had lapsed two months ago, on Dec. 17. Francis named nine new members Saturday and kept seven from the initial group. A Vatican statement said survivors of abuse are included, but didn’t identify them to protect their privacy.
None of the most outspoken lay advocates for victims from the original group returned, but a statement stressed that the commission’s work would be imbued throughout with the experience of victims.
Commission members are to open their April plenary by meeting with victims privately, and discussions are continuing to create an “international survivor advisory panel’’ to advise the commission and make sure the voices of victims are heard in all its deliberations, the statement said. —AFP