Pope Francis Names Second Abuse Survivor to Child Abuse Protection Panel

Amy Schaeffer

Pope Francis expanded his papal commission on child protection to include a second survivor of abuse and more experts from around the world.

The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis established one year ago, adds four more women and four men from five continents to the now-17-member body, which is widely diverse in experience, background, education, and philosophy.

The Vatican announced the new members Dec. 17. One of the new members is Peter Saunders, the chief executive officer of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), which he founded nearly two decades ago in the United Kingdom to help other survivors find support. He was one of six abuse survivors who spoke with Pope Francis in a private meeting at the Vatican on July 7 and shared his own personal experiences of child sexual abuse.

Also joining the commission are the following.

The commission is headed by Cardinal O'Malley; the commission secretary is U.S. Father Robert W. Oliver, a Boston priest and canon lawyer who worked on the abuse crisis in the church there.

The new papal commission members join Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of clerical abuse, and six -- mostly European -- experts in mental health, civil and church law, and moral theology.

The next plenary session of the commission will take place in the Vatican on Feb. 6-8, 2015. The new members and Pope Francis are expected to be present. Pope Francis has been heralded by many as a saint for his strong stance on child abuse and his commitment to charity work.