Pope sets up child abuse committee

Pope Francis is to set up a Vatican committee to fight sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church and offer help to victims.

The announcement, by the archbishop of Boston, follows a meeting between the Pope and his eight cardinal advisers.

It comes days after the Vatican refused a UN request for information on alleged abuse by priests, nuns or monks.

Pope Francis has said dealing with sex abuse is vital for the Church’s credibility.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said the proposed panel of experts could provide codes of conduct for clergymen, guidelines for Church officials and better checks for would-be priests.

“Up until now there has been so much focus on the judicial parts of this but the pastoral part is very, very important. The Holy Father is concerned about that,” he said.

He said the move was in line with the approach of the former Pope, Benedict XVI.

Boston was the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal involving Catholic priests in the US in 2002.

Cardinal O’Malley said the new committee was suggested by the council of cardinals, which was convened to discuss reforms to the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis approved it on Thursday, according to AFP news agency.

Earlier this year he strengthened Vatican laws on child abuse, broadening the definition of crimes against minors to include sexual abuse of children.

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