The Dallas Morning News

Pope revives abuse panel

Sex advisory group reconvenes in April; Boston cardinal to lead

- Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Saturday revived his sex abuse advisory commission, which had lapsed, by naming new members 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 initial three-year mandate of commission members 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 were included but didn’t identify them to protect their privacy.

Commission members are to open their April session by meeting with victims privately, and discussion­s are continuing to create a victims’ panel to advise the commission and to make sure the voices of victims are heard in all its deliberati­ons, the statement said.

“The newly appointed members will add to the commission’s global perspectiv­e in the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who was reappointe­d leader of the group.

The announceme­nt of the new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was made on the same day that a Vatican investigat­or, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, was to take the testimony of Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the main whistleblo­wers in the Chilean cover-up scandal.

Francis tasked Scicluna with the fact-finding mission into the case of Bishop Juan Barros after the pope came under blistering criticism in Chile for defending Barros.

Victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, have for years accused Barros of witnessing their abuse, ignoring it and defending Karadima.

En route home from Chile, Francis insisted he had no “evidence” against Barros to warrant removing him. But The Associated Press reported that he had received a letter from Cruz, a Karadima victim, in April 2015 detailing the abuse he had suffered and alleging that Barros was present while it happened.

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