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News

Pope setting up panel to hear accused priests' appeals
19 May 2014 18:05 by Abigail Frymann Rouch

Pope Francis is establishing a commission under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine the appeals of priests punished for sexual abuse of minors and other serious crimes.

The Vatican press office issued a brief note today stating that the Pope had named Argentine Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario to be a member of the CDF "in the commission being established to examine the appeals of clergy for delicta graviora," the Vatican term for sexual abuse of minors and serious sins against the sacraments.

Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan worked with Pope Francis between 1993 and 2000 when both prelates served as bishops in the diocese of Buenos Aires.

The note described Mollaghan as having led the Archdiocese of Rosario "until now," suggesting that his new role on the commission would be a full-time job in Rome, the US-based Catholic News Service reported.

The Vatican did not provide further details about the commission, when it would be established or what the extent of its mandate would be. It did not mention what Archbishop Mollaghan's position on the commission would be.

AICA, the Argentine Catholic news agency, reported on 19 May that Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, Vatican nuncio to Argentina, announced Archbishop Mollaghan's appointment and said he would serve as apostolic administrator of Rosario until a new archbishop is named.

Archbishop Mollaghan, 68, holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was named an auxiliary bishop in Buenos Aires in 1993, one year after the current pope became an auxiliary bishop in the city. The two worked together until Archbishop Mollaghan was named bishop of San Miguel in 2000.

The US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) was critical of the announcement. “Instead of changing an inherently self-serving procedure, the Pope should be making sure his staff fully cooperate with effective secular justice systems which have long done a far better job of resolving child sex abuse and cover-up cases.”

The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis set up to advise on safeguarding and abuse issues and which includes an abuse survivor, met for the first time earlier this month in Rome.