VATICAN CITY — Members of Pope Francis' sexual abuse advisory board said Saturday that they will develop "clear and effective" protocols to hold bishops and other church authorities accountable if they fail to report suspected abuse or protect children from pedophile priests.
Victims groups have long blasted the Vatican for refusing to sanction any bishop or superior who covered up for priests who raped and molested children. They have listed accountability as one of the core issues facing Francis and a key test for his new advisory board.
Francis announced the creation of the commission last December and named its members in March after coming under initial criticism for having ignored the sex abuse issue. The commission's eight members — four of whom are women — met for the first time this week at the pope's Vatican hotel to discuss the scope of their work and future members.
Briefing reporters Saturday, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said current church laws could hold bishops accountable if they failed to protect children. But, he said, those laws hadn't been sufficient to date and that new protocols were needed.