Catholic bishops should be held accountable if they fail to report suspected sexual abuse or protect children from paedophile priests, a panel advising Pope Francis says, reports the ABC.
After holding its first meeting, the new Vatican advisory board says current Church laws are out of date. It says it will develop 'clear and effective' rules to deal with the problem.
In a first for the Church, the board - made up of four men and four women - includes a woman who was abused by a priest when she was a child. Board member Cardinal Sean O'Malley says a person's rank in the Church should not be cause for special treatment or protection.
'Our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with superiors in the Church who have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children,' he said.
The board will draw up protocols for the Pope to consider. Cardinal O'Malley says they will lead to an open process that will hold people accountable to their responsibility to protect children around the world.
'There are a lot of people who think it's limited to certain countries and that it's been dealt with and now we can move on to something else and that is simply not true,' he said.
Papal Commission demands accountability for abuse in Catholic Church (Vatican Insider)