Why a Key Member of the Pope’s Sex Abuse Commission is Taking a Leave of Absence

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis’ efforts to show that he’s tough on clerical sex abuse have suffered a blow after a high-profile abuse survivor took a leave of absence from the pontiff’s advisory commission.

Peter Saunders, a British advocate for survivors, had been highly critical of the slow pace of progress by the Vatican in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests.

Pope Francis leaves at the end of an audience with Saint Pio's faithful in St Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Saint Pio is widely venerated in Italy and abroad. He is famous for bearing the stigmata, which are the marks of Christ, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. He died on Sept. 23, 1968. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Vatican said that during a meeting of the commission Saturday, “it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission’s work.”

His departure leaves just one other survivor of abuse, Marie Collins, on the commission, which was formed in 2013.


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