By Josephine Mckenna | Religion News Service, Updated: Wednesday, April 30
VATICAN CITY — As Pope Francis prepares to address the new Vatican panel charged with tackling the clergy sexual abuse scandal, victims are demanding the Catholic Church take immediate action to expose perpetrators and punish the bishops who protected them.
The Vatican’s new commission for the protection of minors, led by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, is designed to show the pope’s personal commitment to confront the sex scandals that have shaken the church in the U.S., Ireland, Germany and elsewhere around the world.
The eight-member commission, including Irish victim Marie Collins, who says she was raped by a priest at age 13, will meet for the first time Thursday (May 1) at the Santa Marta residence where the pope lives inside the walls of the Vatican.
But the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said Wednesday that church panels in the past had done nothing to expose or prevent abuse, and it called for a new approach.
“SNAP contends that these panels — or panel members — have both the chance and the duty to take action now to expose and deter cover-ups,” said Barbara Blaine, founder and president of SNAP, which represents 18,000 victims from 79 countries who claim to have suffered clerical sexual abuse.
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