BOSTON (MyFoxBoston/AP) — Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley has been named to a commission to advise Pope Franics on sex abuse policy. It's meant to be a positive step forward, but it's causing some controversy.
O'Malley is one of Francis' key advisers and the archbishop of Boston, where the U.S. sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002.
Of the eight members, half of the members are women, and one was assaulted by a priest as a child. O'Malley is the only member from the U.S.
"It's a great need for the church and I'm honored to be a part of it," O'Malley said.
The eight members were announced after Francis came under fire from victims' groups for a perceived lack of attention to the abuse scandal, which has seriously damaged the Catholic Church's reputation around the world and cost dioceses and religious orders billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.
According to the Vatican, the commission's focus will be what it calls "youth protection," through education, discipline of offenders and development of best practices.
The church regards Cardinal O'Malley as an expert in handling clergy sex abuse claims - namely his role in settling more than 100 cases against the Boston Archdiocese. He replaced Cardinal Bernard Law as archbishop.
But Barbara Blaine, the founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and a clergy sex abuse victim herself, said the commission doesn't go far enough.
At Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday, SNAP members gave out copies of the 20 steps they think Pope Francis should take to deal with the crisis.
Those steps include using secular bodies to investigate sex abuse claims, and demanding the turn over of church records about predatory priests to local law enforcement.
"We don't believe that church officials need to spend any more time studying and investigating. We think it's deceptive on church officials part up claim they don't know what to do. We believe they know clearly what to do - that they should take action," Blaine said.
Phil Saviano of Roslindale said he was a victim of sex abuse in the Worcester diocese for years as a child.
He called the formation of the commission anti-climatic.
"It's possible that some good will come of this, but the thing is we don't really know. We don't know how long it's gonna take," Saviano said. "And my concern [is], if it drags on and on in the meantime, kids are still at risk."
The group's initial work will involve finalizing the tasks of the commission, including possibly adding new members.
O'Malley's duties on the commission will be part-time, and he will continue to serve as archbishop of Boston.