Vatican revives pope's sexual abuse panel


Pope Francis has restored a lapsed sexual abuse commission within the Catholic Church.

Francis is under fire over his handling of the decades-old worldwide scandal of pedophile priests, including for not immediately renewing the panel's three-year mandate when it expired in December.

US Cardinal Sean O'Malley was confirmed as the head of the child protection panel along with seven other incumbent members.

According to a Vatican statement, the new members of the commission will join eight existing members. It said plans were at an advanced stage to create a group made up of victims of sexual abuse known as the International Survivor Advisory Panel (ISAP) to offer consultation on "abuse prevention from the survivor´s perspective".

As she quit March 1, Irish victim and campaigner Marie Collins accused the Vatican's bureaucracy of stonewalling the panel's work, and called it "unacceptable" and "devastating".

The announcement of the revival of the committee came just days after it was revealed that Francis held regular private meetings with people abused by members of the priesthood.

In a statement to the National Catholic Reporter, Collins denounced the commission's "lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance".

In a rare u-turn, last month he apologized for saying that abuse survivors should show "proof" of the crimes against them, and dispatched Scicluna, one of the Vatican's most respected abuse investigators, to Chile to probe the claims of victims.

The Vatican found the priest, Father 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".