Pope Francis appoints sex-abuse victim to advisory commission

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Among those tapped by Pope Francis to a commission to advise him on sex abuse policy an Irish woman assaulted as a child by a priest to start plotting the commission's tasks and priorities.

The pope announced the commission’s first eight members, including lay and religious experts, after coming under criticism from victims'’ groups. The Roman Catholic Church’s global sex abusive scandal and massive cover-up operations have devastated the church's reputation and cost dioceses billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.

In December, the Vatican announced that Francis would create a commission to develop best policies to protect children, train church personnel and keep abusers out of the clergy. But no details were released until today, and it’s unknown whether the commission will have the authority to discipline bishops who cover up for abusers.

In a statement today, the Vatican hinted that it might, saying the commission would look into both "civil and canonical duties and responsibilities" for church personnel, AP reported. Canon law does provide for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but such punishments have rarely if ever been imposed in the case of bishops who failed to report pedophile priests to police.

The eight inaugural members of the commission include Marie Collins, who was assaulted as a 13-year-old by a hospital chaplain in her native Ireland. She’s become a prominent Irish campaigner in the fight for accountability in the church.

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