Pope Francis revives sex abuse advisory committee

Pope Francis revives sex abuse advisory committee
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Pope Francis has revived an advisory commission on the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal after criticism over his allowing the commission to lapse and his support of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of ignoring sex crimes, the Independent reported.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, launched in 2014, had an initial three-year mandate that lapsed in December. The purpose of the commission was to tackle the church's sex abuse scandal, which has seen priests across the world accused of molesting young children and teenagers.

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In addition to seven original members of the council, Francis named nine new members to the advisory board this week, a group which included survivors of abuse whose names were kept anonymous to protect their privacy.

Francis himself has been particularly criticized for his support of Bishop Juan Barro, a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sex crimes committed by a priest under his supervision.

The Vatican found the priest, Fernando Karadima, guilty of abusing teenage boys in 2010 and sentenced him to a lifetime of "penance and prayer," as well as "lifelong prohibition from the public exercise of any ministerial act, particularly confession and the spiritual guidance of any category of persons."

Last month, the pope apologized and acknowledged he had "wounded many" by suggesting that sex abuse victims and those accusing Barro of a cover-up should present "proof" before being believed by the Catholic Church.

“I apologize to them if I hurt them without realizing it, but it was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to," the pope said in January.

“It pains me very much," he added. "Covering up abuse is an abuse in itself."

Accusations of sexual abuse and harassment received new attention in 2017 and the early months of 2018 as the growing #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have sought to address global issues of sexual misconduct.